Spinach Mash/Kadaintha Keerai/Palak

The days are slowly beginning to grow warmer and longer. The comforting rich foods of winter is beginning to wane into lighter brighter menu choices. Root vegetables and hearty rich creamy soups are giving way to lighter offerings featuring a range of tasty tender greens. These farm-to-fork recipes make the most of our spring market haul.

Local Farmer’s Market

A yummy, yet simple way to use our spring garden abundance is to let fresh spring dishes sprout up in our menus. The local farmers’ markets are bursting at the seams with fresh, colorful, and tasty fruits and vegetables. With such fresh, local ingredients, there are plenty of easy recipes practically begging to be made.Put your harvest to good use in these tasty farm- to- table recipe.

The joy of shopping for fresh produce in the farmer’s market

One can find fresh spinach at the grocery store all year round, but seasonally speaking, the cool months of spring (and fall) bring the tender, bright green leaves to farmers’ markets. Spinach certainly deserves its superfood reputation—this dark, leafy green is high in vitamins K, A, B6, and C, as well as in folate, magnesium, and a host of other good-for-us nutrients. This stellar veggie also happens to be perfectly delicious.Though frozen and canned spinach are good options as off-season sources, there’s nothing quite like the sight of fresh spinach after a long cold winter.

Smooth- leaf spinach/Palak/Keerai

Types of Spinach :

Three types of fresh spinach are widely available: Savoy, flat-leaf, and baby. Nutritionally speaking they are on equal terms, choosing one over the other is based on one’s own preference of texture, taste, and convenience.

Savoy spinach, better known as curly spinach or curly-leaf spinach, has large, dark green leaves and a surface that’s full of deep crevices, creating a crinkly, “curly” look. Rinsing this kind of spinach thoroughly is a must coz’ they can hold a lot of grit in their crevices.

Smooth-leaf spinach, also sold as flat-leaf spinach, is much easier to clean than Savoy, due to its characteristic broad, unwrinkled leaves. It’s also less tannic/bitter-tasting than its curly counterpart.

Baby spinach, as its name implies, is spinach that’s harvested before maturation. Therefore, the leaves are not just smaller but also more tender and delicate than full-size spinach.

Helpful Tips :

  • Think big when buying : Cooking spinach will drastically reduce its volume, so plan your meals accordingly.
  • Wash and store properly : Washing spinach is easy. Trim the stems of larger flat-leaf or curly types. Gently agitate the leaves with your hands in a large bowl of cold water, letting the grit sink to the bottom. Lift out the greens and change the water as needed, repeating until the water remains clear.
  • Storing : If you’re not using the spinach right away, wrap the leaves in paper towels before placing them in plastic bags with holes poked through, or one can use a salad spinner as storage. The leaves should keep for up to three days.
  • Preserving the nutrients : Spinach stays nutrient-dense when it’s steamed, quickly boiled, or speedily sautéed. The longer spinach is cooked, the more nutrients it loses, so be careful not to overcook it. Cooking spinach will slightly reduce its levels of folate and vitamin C, yet cooked spinach contains more vitamin A than raw spinach.

The kind of spinach, I used for this recipe is the flat leaf smooth spinach, easy to clean & delicious when cooked. It is called Palak in Hindi & “Keerai” in Tamil, a South Indian Language.

Washed and cleaned spinach after trimming the stems

After rinsing the leaves and soaking it in cold water, make sure all the grit on the leaves settles at the bottom .Changing the water several times helps ensure that the leaves are clean and ready for cooking. Like I previously mentioned, cooking spinach will drastically reduce its volume, so depending on how many people you are cooking for adjust the number of spinach bunches you use in the recipe.

Mashed spinach also known as “Kadaintha Keerai” in Tamil is the first course in a South Indian meal . Topped with a dollop of ghee on hot steaming rice, this is a comfort food to many. A spicy pickle or pappadam/ rice or lentil chips is used commonly as an accompaniment to this dish. Traditionally, mashed using a “mathu“/ladle which allows the spinach/keerai to be coarsely mashed. Yet, blender is the most common choice due to time constraints & ease of use, which results in a fine paste. This healthy delicious recipe is quick & easy to make .Considering we are focussed on Farm to Table recipes this season, is your palate ready for spring awakening ? Serve hot in your stoneware bowls around the table.

Spinach Mash/Kadaintha Keerai/Palak

It’s the most popular choice food for pediatric and geriatric age groups in South India, due to its ease of digestion and health benefits. Do give it a try, there is truckloads of greens in the fresh market this season. Spinach certainly should be on the top of the list of farm to table fresh produce considering its health benefits !

Amount per serving :
Calories – 122
% Daily Value :
Total Fat 2.4 g 4 %
Saturated Fat 0.3 g 1 %
Cholesterol 0 g 0 %
Sodium 527.1 g 22 %
Total Carbohydrate 22.2 g 7%
Dietary Fiber 6.2 g 25 %
Sugar 6.8 g
Protein 7 g 14%
Vitamin A -88% Vitamin C-131%
Calcium- 21% Iron – 28%

My previously published recipes using spinach are listed below, for you to try out. Here goes…

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5 years ago

Thank you Maya! I’ll enjoy searching through back blogposts for spinach recipe ideas, and no doubt finding many other things I like too … and yes, I love Indian food. I find I still do need to adjust the spice levels but I am getting more courageous with age 🙂 and I think having had wonderful Indian friends who cooked delicious food slowly acclimatised me to heat and spices….gorgeous!

5 years ago

Maya, I am in luck. Spinach is my favourite vegetable and the combination of the tastes in the recipe are sure to be delicious…..new to me and very delcious sounding. Thank you for your blog, always enjoyed.

5 years ago

Loved this simple recipe Maya. Palak dishes are very frequent in our everyday meals also. Similar recipe of Palak with moong daal is our family favorite. Thank you for sharing such in depth deets of spinach.

Maya Shetty
5 years ago
Reply to  Pinkz

Thank you, Pinky for your kind words as always, much appreciated. We do use thuvar Daal & palak in a different recipe, but this is exclusively only palak to be had with hot steaming rice & a dollop of ghee in the start of a meal, an everyday habit in India & a healthy choice at that ! Here, I probably do it twice a week, not everyday, still enjoy it. Do try this, & let me know how it turns out for you 🙂