Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keerai Koottu / Spinach and Moong dal Curry

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.

Method :

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.


  1. This must be a staple once a week kootu in every Indian household. First of all, the cooker is very neat and almost spotless. How do you manage that? You will know my interest when I display mine in the side. Now to the recipe. We have two methods. One is simply cook dal and keerai. Along with seasoning grind jeera, coconut, green chillies and ginger.Second is closer to yours but with garlic and tomatoes. I'm loving the pictures as well. The best part of your blog is the Comfort food features. Reminds us of home and makes us want to cook it.

  2. My niece Remy in US Makes this. Nutritious and comforting food.
    Thanks for posting your recipe.

  3. Very healthy and delicious looking curry. Would love to have it with rice.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  4. Wowwww.... such a delicious and healthy recipe.. awesome pictures dear.. thanks for sharing :)

  5. awesome and droolworthy keerai kootu with lovely clicks.

  6. Nice simple and healthy curry !!

    Ongoing Event - CC-Appetizers

  7. Your clicks makes us tempting to eat.Thandu keerai in english is amaranth tender and spinach means pasali keerai.Hope this information useful for u.

  8. The clicks re awesome Bharathy,looks so comforting,the kootu. Never made in pressure cooker so far...

  9. Looks wonderful!! Great nutritious dal!!

  10. love this post! the pics are amazing!

  11. Healthy and comforting dish...apt with rice and ghee, very nice clicks too

  12. Wat a healthy and delicious kootu, can have it even everyday..

  13. Healthy, simple, yummy dish!!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  14. Lovely snaps. I make the same curry, but instead of moong dal I use tur dal. In english, this keerai is called as "Amaranth leaves". This is one of my favorite comforting food.

  15. Thank you so much bharathy for visiting my space and leaving your lovely comment.


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