Warm, Comforting Bowl of Keerai Molagootal or Palakkad Style Spinach Lentil Curry with steamed rice, potato roast and unlimited papads make the best Sunday Lunch Ever for a South Indian.
Keerai Molagootal speaks comfort, fond childhood memories of Sunday Lunches cooked by Ma. It is that ultimate soul satisfying simple meal that reminds me of my Palakkad Roots. A hearty Palakkad Style Spinach Lentil Curry with a coconut gravy base is what I craved post my vacation from the hills. A bowl of rice, generous ladles of this curry, a side of Potato Roast and the satisfaction on your face of being home is quite visible!
Keerai Molagootal is a recipe from my Ma’s repertoire. Keerai Molagootal is also known as Keerai Kootu and is an extremely healthy combination of leafy greens and dal, paruppu or lentils. Molagootal is often combined with a Rasam, preferably Milagu Jeera Rasam during monsoons and winter, a Poriyal or Dry Veg / Stir Fry and Steamed Rice topped with ghee or nei for a hearty lunch menu.
Molagootal is mildly spiced unlike Sambar. It is also low in oil, except the tempering. Thus, it makes a hearty meal when under the weather or absolutely in need of comfort food! After a brief vacation in the hills, deprived of South Indian food, all I longed for was to get back home, stock up vegetables and make something hearty and soothing. The Keerai Molagootal was a total winner!
Keerai translates as “leafy greens” in Tamil. The Keerai Molagootal can be made with a variety of leafy greens such as Arai Keerai, Mulai Keerai and Siru Keerai too. You can also combine all the leafy greens and make this recipe too. I personally, love the combination of spinach or palak and dal.
The recipe is a No onion, no garlic curry. Also, Gluten Free and Vegan!
Some other Traditional South Indian Main Course Recipes that you may be interested in –
- Beetroot Thoran (A Vegan Gluten Free Stir Fry / Sabzi that can be paired with Molagootal and rice)
- Idichakka Thoran (Raw Jackfruit Sabzi to be savoured during Summers). Gluten Free and Vegan.
- Mor Keerai (A Spinach or Palak Preparation and a close cousin of Molagootal in terms of appearance but made with a buttermilk or curd base) It is Gluten Free but not Vegan.
- Avial (Kerala’s signature Mixed Vegetable Curry). Gluten Free and Vegan Recipe.
Let us check out the step by step process of making delicous Keerai Molagootal for your next Sunday Lunch.
(1) Wash and Soak the Toor Dal or Arhar Dal for 15 minutes.
(2) Wash, rinse and roughly chop the spinach or palak leaves.
(3) Combine both the soaked dal and the spinach in a steel vessel suitable for pressure cooking, add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Pressure cook until the dal is mushy.
(4) In the meanwhile, lets prepare the coconut gravy mix by heating a pan, adding coconut oil, urad dal, jeera and whole red chillies. Roast the urad dal until light brownish in colour and then add the grated coconut / cut pieces as convenient. Saute for a few minutes, switch off and allow it to cool.
(5) Grind the above mix with water into a thick paste.
(6) Once the dal and spinach have cooked. Allow it to cool and then blitz it in a mixer grinder.
(7) Heat the dal and spinach mixture on a low flame, add the ground coconut paste. Add salt to taste and mix well until the molagootal froths up. Switch off the flame and prepare for tempering.
(8) Prepare the tempering by heating a small pan, adding oil, urad dal, mustard seeds and some red chillies. Pour the tempering over the molagootal and serve piping hot with rice and a dry poriyal.
Keerai Molagootal / Palakkad Style Spinach Lentil Curry
- 3 cups Spinach or Palak (washed and roughly chopped) 1 large bunch of Rs. 20 yielded 3 cups of spinach (1 cup is 200 ml measurement)
- 1/2 cup Tur Dal or Arhar Dal Washed twice and soaked for 15 minutes
- 1 cup Water for cooking + More as required to adjust gravy consistency
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder or Haldi
- salt to taste
- FOR COCONUT GRAVY
- 1/2 cup Coconut roughly chopped into pieces OR 3/4 cup of Grated coconut can be used
- 2-3 nos. Whole Red Chillies I have used Pondy Chillies for spice.
- 1 tblsp Urad Dal
- 1 tsp Jeera or Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Coconut Oil
- 1/3 cup Water for Grinding
- FOR TEMPERING
- 2 tsp Coconut Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds or Rai
- 1/2 tsp Urad Dal
- 1-2 nos Whole red chillies
- Wash and Soak the Toor Dal for 15 minutes
- Wash, rinse and roughly chop the spinach leaves
Combine both the soaked dal and the spinach in a vessel for pressure cooking, add salt to taste and turmeric powder. Pressure cook until the dal is mushy.
In the meanwhile, lets prepare the coconut gravy mix by heating a pan, adding coconut oil, urad dal, jeera and whole red chillies.
Once urad dal turns slightly brownish in colour, add the grated coconut or coconut pieces. Saute for a few minutes, Switch off the flame, allow to cool
Once cool, Grind the above ingredients with some water into a thick paste.
Once the dal and spinach have cooked. Allow it to cool and then blitz it
in a mixer grinder or hand blender.
Heat the dal spinach mixture on a low flame, add the ground coconut paste. Add salt to taste and mix well until the molagootal froths up. Switch off the flame and prepare for tempering.
- Prepare the tempering by heating a small pan, adding oil, urad dal, mustard seeds and some red chillies. Pour the tempering over the molagootal and serve piping hot with rice and a dry poriyal.
- Allow the cooked spinach and dal to completely cool before grinding. Do not grind when it is hot. You can use a hand blender for fastening the process.
- Key to tasty Molagootal – Do not allow the Molagootal to boil over high flame like Rasam. It should lightly froth. Ensure the flame is low while mixing the coconut gravy and once it is mixed, switch off the flame. Avoid re-heating if possible.
- It has a shelf life of 2 days in refrigerator but I don’t make a large batch as the Molagootal tastes best when served on day 1.
- Traditionally we use Coconut Oil to cook this recipe. If you do not prefer coconut oil, opt for any suitable variety.
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