‘Keerai’in Tamil refers to all green leafy vegetables.
The one used for molagootal – a Palakkad speciality – is chowli leaves, but I generally use spinach or palak leaves since it is easier to clean. Spinach is abundantly available during this season and I get it practically off the fields, so it is something I enjoy cooking in various ways – Hara bhara kababs, palak paneer etc. I won’t expound on the benefits we derive from green leafy veggies but you will find it all here
if interested. I remember my kids eating their greens really quick thanks to Popeye!
Molagootal/milagootal is basically boiled vegetables mixed with a gravy made of cooked dal and coconut+jeera+red chillies ground together with the a little water. It is a versatile dish and doesn’t require any thing more than rice to make a full meal. Here’s how it is done:
Recipe: Keerai Molagootal (Spinach in lentil and coconut gravy)
Pairing – Molagootal is served as a first course with rice with any sour/sweet pachadi (a kind of South Indian raita) on the side.
Ingredients: (Serves 5)
Spinach – 2 big bunches
– Separate the good leaves, cut off the ends of the stems, wash scrubbing the leaves thoroughly, drain and chop fine. Sometimes you will find a thin white line on spinach leaves – This is the path of a worm embedded in the leaf – discard such leaves!
Salt – to taste
Turmeric/haldi powder – 1/2tsp.
Coconut (Freshly grated) – 1 cup
Cumin seeds/jeera – 1tsp.
Dry red chillies – 3small Nos.
Cooked Tuvar/Arhar dal – 1+1/2 cup
Coconut oil – 1tsp.
Mustard/rai seeds – 1tsp.
1. Cook the spinach in about 3/4cup water with haldi and salt till. Mash roughly with a kadchi and set aside.
2. Grind coconut, jeera and dry red chillies with enough water to chutney like consistency. (Variation – Substitute jeera with equal quantity of well roasted urad dal for this recipe)
3. Mash the cooked dal with the back of a ladle slightly. Add it to the cooked spinach.
4. Add the coconut mixture to the spinach and dal. Mix with a ladle and pour water till comes to a chutney like consistency – a little thinner but not runny. Bring the mixture to a boil.
5. Remove from fire. Heat a tempering wok. Pour the coconut oil and add mustard seeds to splutter. Pour it into the spinach mixture and mix well.