Keerai Kootu is the curry I make at least once a week. Manathakkali leaves, mulai keerai or red spinach find their way into the dal making it a wholesome comfort dish for both him and me.
Past week I made a quick visit to our ancestral bungalow in our native village to see the healthy Thandu keerai being grown in the backyard. Now, who can resist the perfect organic home grown greens!
I had them plucked right away to make this flavourful koottu the very next day!
I'm not sure about the English name for this variety and will be helpful if anyone could help me find it :)
Updated : 'Thandu Keerai' in English is Amaranth Tender or Amaranth Leaves. Thanks Layaa and Zareena for the information.
So here we go with the recipe..
Yields- the vessel photographed. Serves a small family.
Get ready with :
Spinach - A bunch (you can use any variety, ensured stems cook soft. Or else use the leaves. I used 'Thandu Keerai' leaves)
Moong dal- dry roasted- 1/3 cup, packed
Small onions, chopped- 1 tbsp
Sambhar powder- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 2 fat pinches
Jeera powder- 1/2 tsp
Freshly grated coconut- 1 tbsp(optional)
Salt- to taste
** To Season,
Ghee /oil - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds and urad dal- 1/4 tsp each
Dried red chilly-1, broken into 3 pieces.
Chop off the roots, clean, wash and drain the spinach. Chop the leaves and the tender stems.
Boil 2 cups of water in a 3 ltr pressure cooker. Give the roasted moong dal a quick rinse and stir along the boiling water in the cooker.
Add sambhar, jeera and turmeric powders along with chopped onions and salt. Stir to combine.
Layer the spinach on top and keeping the flame to'sim', wilt down the leaves. Stir gently.
Stir in grated coconut.
Close the cooker with its lid and increase the flame to 'medium'. Place the weight after you see the steam coming out.
Cook until 1-2 whistles. Remove and let the steam vent off by itself. Open the lid, check salt and season.
To season, heat oil in a separate kadai, splutter the mustard seeds, brown the urad dal followed by the red chillies.
Serve warm with steamed rice with a dollop of ghee or with Indian breads.
If the koottu turns out watery, add rice powder and simmer, to thicken.
**You can add a tbsp of minced onions and a clove of minced garlic while seasoning the curry.You may need to caramelize onions and garlic and should use 1-1/2 tbsps of oil / ghee. It enhances the flavour much.
I generally avoid this as my family loves the mild flavour of onions cooked along the dal and the greens. Garlic can also be cooked along instead of seasoning. Moreover, the extra oil is avoided this way.
Non pressure cooker method:
I generally follow the pressure cooker method as the dal and greens demand more time when cooked direct due to the hardness of water in my place. You may not use a pressure cooker otherwise. Just cook the dal directly and when it's half cooked add the powders and onions followed the spinach and cook until soft.Add the coconut and simmer before seasoning.