Today’s dish is Keerai Molagoottal, or Arachuvitta Keerai Kootu. This is just blanched and ground spinach mixed with a coconut-spice paste, with a lentil base. Such a simple, but flavourful and nutritious dish. This is basically a traditional South Indian dish, with minimal spices and can be made in under 30 minutes. This curry base can be used to flavor any seasonal greens available at any point in time. Usually we make this with spinach (palak), amaranthus (araikeerai), and mulaikeerai (prickly amaranth) which is DH’s favourite. This is so simple and easy to make, but tastes divine when mixed with rice, along with a splash of ghee. This is also fantastic accompaniment for curd rice, which is actually my favourite way of having it. Some potato fry on the side, and this is just the perfect combination that makes for a happy and content belly!
There’s hardly any oil involved in this dish at all. The tempering is optional, so you could prepare this dish devoid of any oil, from start to finish. The spinach is just lightly blanched for 3-4 minutes, thereby taking care not to overcook it, and hence retaining all its nutrients. This makes it extremely healthy. Also, this is a really hearty dish, and can keep you full for quite a while. Read on for the recipe!
- Spinach (or any greens of your choice) – 250g, washed
- Moong dal – 1/2 a cup
- Turmeric powder – a pinch
- Tomato – 1 small
- Fresh Coconut – 1/4 cup, grated (or equivalent amount of coconut flesh)
- Black pepper – 4 to 5 peppercorns
- Jeera – 2 tsp
- Red chillies – 2
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Hing – a pinch
- Mustard – 1/4 tsp
- Red chilli (gundu variety) – 1 or 2
- Cook the moong dal along with some turmeric powder and one roughly chopped tomato in the pressure cooker, until completely soft.
- Mash well and set aside. You can also use any leftover cooked dal for this dish.
- Grind the ingredients in the ‘to grind’ list with some water, to a coarse paste. Set aside.
- Wash the spinach.
- Bring water to a rolling boil and salt it. Immerse the spinach in this for 3-4 minutes.
- Switch off the stove. spinach would be cooked by now.
- Drain the spinach using a colander.
- Transfer to a mixer grinder.
- Run the mixer for 1 or two short pulses, until a paste. No need to add any water.
- Bring the dal to a boil in a kadai.
- Add the ground coconut paste to this.
- Mix well so that there are no lumps.
- Add salt to taste. Mix well to incorporate.
- Add the ground spinach puree into this mixture.
- Mix well. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes, and switch off.
Temper with the ingredients under ‘to temper’ list (tempering is optional).
Serve with potato fry, or just vadaam / appalam. Do NOT skimp on the ghee when mixing with rice! It tastes divine 😀
TIPS & TWEAKS
- The grinding of the spinach is optional. I like the bright green colour it imparts to the dish, so I do it. You can also choose to finely chop the spinach, blanch it, drain it and add it to the kootu as is. The colour of the dish will be yellow with specks of green from the spinach leaves 🙂
- While blanching the spinach, you could also add in two peeled cloves of garlic. It is typically not added in my house, but garlic and spinach go really well together.
- Do not miss adding the salt while blanching spinach, because salt kills any germs or any small insects that may be on the leaves.