Keerai Kootu (Spinach and Lentil Curry)
“Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
It’s a cold,cold winter day, what better than to seek the comfort of a creamy, rich, healthy home made curry/soup to warm your innards ? “Keerai” is a Tamilian( South Indian language) word for Spinach,”Kootu simply means a thick creamy, luscious soup or a curry that is made of lentils & is coconut based.This comfort food mixed with rice & potato fries as a side,will chase the winter blues away,and is just what I needed today.
Lentils of different kinds are a staple in every Indian home & in winter they are most useful because they can be stored dry for long periods of time & what’s more, you can prepare a curry in a jiffy without having to slip & skate through those snow laden streets, which itself is a blessings in disguise.So here I was preparing this common, but delicious South Indian dish, to be had with the rice for a hearty meal.The fireplace crackled gently,adding warmth to the mix.It’s beginning to feel like a slow calm relaxed weekend, what more can you ask for when the temp’s outside is in single digits?
Note: One can also have it as a soup since it’s coconut based, it has a thick creamy consistency & promises to deliver the comfort one seeks on a cold winter day.Enjoy!
Moong Dhal( Green lentils)- 1 cup
Spinach- 2 bunches ( I used Baby Spinach, one can use any variety of Spinach)
Tomatoes – 2
Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Water- a table spoon or two
Coriander seeds- 1tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Black Pepper – 1 tbsp
Coconut flakes- 2 tsp
Dry Red chillies- 3-4
Mustard- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- 5-6
1.Heat oil in a deep thick bottomed vessel, then do the seasoning with the mustard & curry leaves.To this add the finely sliced onions & cubed tomatoes & sauté till they are soft & mushy.
2.Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, cook the lentils( Moong dhal) in 3 cups of water,when they soften, remove from the stove & set aside.
3.Clean & cut the spinach into smaller thin shreds.
4.When the onion tomato mixture is soft & mushy add the soft lentils to the mix & stir gently.Then add the spinach & allow the mix to cook with the lid covered, add a little water if you need to.
5.Alongside after frying the “to grind” ingredients in a little oil, blend them to a fine paste like consistency adding a tbsp of water.When it becomes a fine paste, add the paste to the lentil spinach mix & stir the mix gently keeping it on medium heat.
6.Add salt to taste & serve hot with rice & potato fries or one can have it as a soup in a soup bowl, either way it’s the best comfort food for winter.