This time at the library, I found loads of books on sale and I was excited to see magazines like Vegetarian Cooking, Parents,Midwest Living etc om sale. I was browsing through one of them when my eyes fell on the Twirly Whirly Pizza in the Parent Magazine. I had also seen it in Madhuram`s page here.
Today was a lazy Saturday and I wanted to cook a light filling italian dinner for my family. I remembered the Pizza Rolls and the asparagus I had bought at the produce section yesterday. Another all time favourite of mine is zucchini which is a versatile vegetable. I made the following:
Spinach and other forms of greens have been an excellent source of vitamins and iron for the body. It is of no wonder that we discover novel methods of ingesting greens so that we can derive the intrinsic rich sources of vitamins for our benefit. This instant keerai masiyal is an express method of cooking and flavouring the greens so that a twist in the taste would make us feel we are eating a different vegetable in a different form.
Its also a quick addition to the regular vegetable everyday, specially for kids and toddlers, to be eaten along with their course. Traditionally, its made with “Ara Keerai” or Mola Keerai in our homes, but I use any green leafy vegetable that I have. Today I`ve used a combination of Spinach, collards and turnips.The variation in the taste is in fact, the effect of the seasoning.
Spinach/Collards/Turnip/Kale – 1/2 a packet or a bunch cleaned.
Coconut Oil, Mustard/Curry Leaves. Broken Urad Dhal, red chillis (3).
Take the washed and cleaned greens and pop in to a microwave safe dish and microwave on HIGH for 5 mins. Optionally, you could also sprinkle water and cook it on the oventop stove for 5 mins .
Do not allow the leaves to get bruised, but cook it only 60% or so.
Pulse the cooked and cooled greens along with salt in the mixer to a smooth paste. There is NO need to add water, as cooking itself brings out the inherent water in the leaves.
If you feel that there is still some raw smell of the greens, that is not agreeable, pop in in to the microwave for an extra 2 mins.
Warm a seasoning kadai on the stove and add 2 spoons of coconut oil.
When hot, add broken urad dhal, allow to slightly brown, red chillis, add mustard, hing, curry leaves and pour over the ground greens paste.
Serve as a side with rice, or over dhal rice, or as a course in itself to mix with rice.
Keerai Molagootalhas of course our “keerai” or spinach as the main ingredient. Spinach being known as a rich source of iron and calcium would figure in our menu at least twice a week. Whenever Amma used to make it she would be sure that there would be no problems as my sister and me loved it so much. Madurai amma would get the keerai from the vendor fresh that morning and she would not hear of me getting it ahead of time from the freezer in FoodWorld. She would take the previous week`s newspaper, spread it all over the dining table and painstakingly seperate the weeds from the “keerai” and then the next process would be to wash it in the huge collander.She would wash it and then hand it over to me to chop it roughly.as they were anyway getting ground. Here all I need to do is to open the box of Organic Baby Spinach leaves and hey pronto!!! We would do it in Madras with the “molai keerai” or the “are keerai”, but I replicate this recipe with collard greens. spinach or even broccolli. When I was pregnant with S, my amma and patti would make keerai for me almost every alternate day. But one never gets bored as there are so many sides to go with it!!!
Keerai Molagootal is best served with “Chenai Arachu Kalakki”, or Vendekkai Thayir Pachadi, or Vendekkai/Kathirikkai Puli Pachadi, or Kadu Manga Arachu Kalakki or Inji Pulikachal or plain Lemon Pickle!!! Its the most versatile, easy, delicious and satvik preparation of spinach. .In fact many of my non-tamil friends here swear by it.. Of course they have found a way to rehash it with lots more red chillis, buy hey…to each his own!!! Here is the recipe for you to try and relish.
Spinach – A bunch/A box. Can also use the aforementioned “keerais” or the collard greens too!)
Toor Dal – Cooked and mashed – 1/2 cup
Salt – To Taste.
Jeera – A spoon
Coconut – 5 Tbsps
Broken Urad Dhal – 2 Tsp
Red Chillis – 3 -4
Clean the spinach and cook in the microwave/stove with a few drops of water for 4 mins and grind to a fine paste.
Clean and cook the toor dhal so its mushy.
Roast the urad dhal and red chillis in a spoon of oil till the urad browns and set aside to cool.
Grind the urad dhal and red chilli with the coconut and jeera with a little water to a fine paste.
Take the kadai and simply pour the spinach paste, add salt and allow to cook.
Slowly stir in the ground coconut paste and mix well.
After a few minutes add the mushy toor dhal along with the water. Mix well now with a ladle and make sure that the whole mixture has a sambar like pouring consistency.
Season in a spoon of coconut oil (optional) with mustard and broken urad dhal.
Since there is a lot of caution on using coconuts, please feel free to vary this recipe by slightly increasing the toor dhal and reducing the coconut to that extent. The consistency has to be maintained as this is not as free flowing as rasam.