As we know, 'Palak' is the Hindi name for spinach, the common healthy greens, and 'Pasalai Keerai', the Tamil.
Having this on my mind, I requested my vegetable lady to bring 'pasalai keerai'. She confronted me with real fresh bunch of greens with oval shaped fleshy leaves that bore tiny pink flowers. The bunch looked cute. I cooked and mashed the leaves, but found this one totally slimy and non-edible! Strange but true.
Lately, I learnt the exact greens I was searching for was called 'Palak Keerai'! This one had longer and broader leaves which were thinner.'Pasalai', I was told, was a different variety: the one with oval leaves and pink flowers.Strange again. I still get confused!
I tried this dish while in Namakkal. The town sells fresh greens, no matter where you live, you can grab the freshest bunch every morning from the vegetable ladies or the nearby shops. I got the bunch from the market.
Those were the times when I was the guardian for my school going son who was in high pressure preparing for the public exams. I saw to it, he received healthy and tasty diet.
'Palak Keerai Masiyal' was thus born, a recipe I tweaked from my other mashed spinach recipes combined with the tips given by my neighbour. Neither my mom or ma-in-law had cooked the same and I had not tasted too. To my excitement, my son really loved this one and I included in his lunch menu, twice a week. The intake of spinach in this form will be greater by one who eats it and the mashed form is better assimilable. This 'Masiyal' or 'Kadasal'( meaning mashed) is thus one of the tastiest greens I prepare!
Palak Keerai Masiyal/Kadasal
To serve a family of 4
Time taken - 40 minutes
A small bunch of Spinach/ Palak
2 tsps of oil
1 medium sized big onion, chopped
Half of a green chilly or one small, slit lengthwise to two pcs
1/4 tsp cumin/jeera powder
A fat pinch or turmeric powder
1 medium sized tomato
5-6 cloves garlic
2 tbsps of cooked thuvar dal
Salt- 1/2 tsp or as needed
Seasoning (optional, I didn't do as my son dislikes. The taste was still good!)
2 tsps of oil
1/4 tsp of mustard seeds and urad dal
A red chilly, broken into 3 bits
Pinch of hing
Wash well enough and retain the leaves and tender stem. I retained just an inch of stem from the leaf. Discard the fibrous parts of the stem completely. Chop the greens. You may not need to chop fine since we are going to cook them. Rough chopping will do. Heat 2 tsps oil in a kadai. Sauté the onions adding salt until translucent and then the garlic and chilly. Add in cumin and turmeric powders...
..followed by the tomato pieces and sauté until they turn mushy. Top up with chopped spinach. Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 cup of water and close the pan with a lid.Turn the flame to low-medium and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Open and check whether the palak is cooked soft. Fresh greens let out water while cooking so check the amount of water you sprinkle earlier.
Now that it's cooked, stir in cooked dal. Switch off fire and let it cool. The whole mass should be moist may be with 2-3tsps and water in it as you see in the picture. Too much of water will spoil the consistency of the 'kadasal'. If you feel it's too dry, add 2-3 tsps of hot water.Purée or blend in a mixie. Check salt. Serve with steamed rice or phulkas.