Thursday, July 4, 2013

Keerai (Spinach) with Moong Dal

It feels like we have been traveling and eating out forever!  First, as soon as summer vacation started, we went to Chennai.  Then we went to London.  The day after we came back, my youngest and I went to Idaho for a soccer tournament.  Then, this weekend, we went to Ann Arbor for freshman orientation for my oldest. 

I don’t know how people do this regularly. I know a couple of people who travel extensively for their job.  They are gone about 15 days each month.  I don’t think I can do it.  It is so tedious to find a place to eat.  Not only do all the different cuisines start to taste the same, but finding veggie dishes that haven't been smothered in oil - making the vegetable unrecognizable - is also difficult - unless you eat raw salad.

When we come back from a trip, I usually make our family’s version of comfort food – rasam, keerai, and potato curry.


We came back home late last night, and I was too tired to make all of that.  I just made potato curry and rice.  We had rotis, rice and the potato curry with yogurt.

I made the spinach, eggplant curry, plantain curry, and rasam for dinner today.

There are a lot of different ways to make keerai (greens) and a lot of different keerais (amaranth, spinach, methi, mustard greens, collard, kale etc.) that can be used.  My favorite is the organic baby spinach from Costco. 

This is a very simple dish to make and is absolutely delicious .   Just the way comfort foods should taste.

Here is what you need:

  • ½ - ¾ cup split moong dal
  •  ¾ lb. baby spinach, washed and chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. split urad dal
  • 2 red chilies broken
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafoetida)
  • few curry leaves

Here is how I make it:

  1. Wash the moong dal in several changes of water.  Add about twice the water as there is moong dal, and cook it in a pressure cooker until done (about 10 minutes after the first whistle).
  2. Wash and chop the spinach.
  3. Add enough water to cover the spinach, cook on high heat till the water comes to boil, simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes ill the spinach is cooked.
  4. Drain the excess water into a bowl.  Add the moong dal to the spinach.  Add enough water to this till the desired consistency is reached.  I like my keerai (greens) a bit liquidy.  If you like it to be a bit more dry, don’t add the water.
  5. Add salt and bring it to a boil.  Turn off the heat.
  6. In a small saucepan (I use a deep iron ladle for this), heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, broken chilies, and the hing. 
  7. When mustard seeds sputter, add the curry leaves and turn off the heat.
  8. Pour this over the keerai.
Serve hot with rice, rasam, and potato curry or with rotis.

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