Mor Keerai (Spinach Greens in a Yoghurt and Coconut Sauce / Gravy)

Mor Keerai (Spinach Greens cooked in a Yoghurt and Coconut Sauce / Gravy) – A Gluten Free Main Course Option from the South Indian Cuisine that is subtle on the spices and creamier with the coconut and yoghurt sauce combination.

Mor Keerai (Spinach Greens in a Yoghurt and Coconut Sauce / Gravy)

Mor Keerai (Spinach Greens in a Yoghurt and Coconut Sauce / Gravy)

Vishu (New Year) is closer and so is the death anniversary of my MIL in the coming week. I have never met that lady but can visualize her from the stories of what my husband shares with me about her. Like my Mom, she too has raised her kids pretty much on her own, has really worked hard to fight many battles in life and passed away just a year before we got married due to prolonged health issues. I was not lucky to meet her but as a sign of respect, I celebrate all the festivals / important days, use all her steel vessels for cooking and wear her podavais / sarees too during functions like a good DIL.

From earlier posts, if you have been reading, you might know that my MIL belongs from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu whereas my FIL belonged to Nagercoil or NagerKovil. It was a difficult transition for her since the language itself undergoes changes. Keralites (Palakkad Iyers and in fact my FIL’s family from Nagercoil) have a lot of Malayalam dialect while speaking Tamil. In fact her MIL used to communicate much in Malayalam which she had no idea about. My MIL’s Mother in Law (FIL’s Mom) stayed with them post their marriage and it was she who taught her to cook in pure coconut oil, in fact fry papadam too in coconut oil. For Keralites, it is Sambar, Rasam, Aviyal, Mor Kootan whereas for the Thanjavur community it was Kozhumbu, Kootu, Paruppu Usili, Mor Kozhumbu etc. It was a tough transition for her to make as my FIL’s side didn’t add much tamarind to their meals whereas my MIL loved her Rasams tangy and spicy. However, they both (my in laws) loved each other a lot and hence, the small issues like adjusting to food was a futile matter.

Years later .. Same story repeats – this time the other way around. I belong to Kerala and since he has been raised by his mother for a large part of his life, keeps saying Kozhumbu instead of Sambar and hence, post marriage, I learnt the Thanjavur style of cooking – Primariliy cooking in sesame / gingelley oil. We Keralites use a lot of coconut oil in our cooking, I still do, but the curries and stir fries are generally done in a veg oil and sesame oil is used for idlis and dosais and podis that are mixed with rice and eaten. That too, we prefer ghee / nei over oil. I make everything from both sides, mine and MIL’s for all occasions, I try and include her recipes and mine as well. In short – I want both my MIL and my Ma to know that they are both deeply missed by their kids.

Narayan was unfortunately leaving on Sunday for a week long trip and since lunch was at home, I thought of going the full length and serving the spread which he loves the most, the combination of Mor Keerai (Spinach or any leafy greens cooked in a yoghurt and coconut sauce / gravy) that his mother made along with some Organic Hand Pounded Rice and Baby Potato Roast. The happiness with which food was gorged gave me enough strength to cope up with the absence of Narayan for a few more days. If he is around, I cook more, eat more and smile more!

Mor Keerai is ideal for summers too as it is not a very spicy sauce, can be eaten with Rasam or just mixed with plain steamed rice (short grain variety preferably) along with some veggies on the side like Potatoes, Chembu or Arbi, Cabbage Paruppu Usili etc. A good spoonful of Manga Kari or Instant Mango Pickle seals the deal. Any Keerai can be used, I had a bunch of spinach so went ahead and used that.

Consumption of leafy greens are restricted or rather completely avoided during the monsoons at our home and hence summers would be the best time to make use of the leafy greens and get the maximum health benefit. Also, Spinach has a good amount of water content, which helps us remain hydrated too during summers.

Mor Keerai 1.jpg

While photographing the picture, I thought of adding an element of my MIL as it would be a perfect ode to her so went ahead and picked a silk saree from the cupboard that belongs to her. Narayan was busy working while I was clicking the pictures and he was glad to see the final cut once I downloaded the photos on my laptop.

Check out the detailed recipe and instructions to make this lipsmacking Mor Keerai below

Recipe for Mor Keerai (Spinach Greens in a Yoghurt and Coconut Sauce / Gravy)


For the Spinach gravy

  1. 1 bunch of Spinach / Palak
  2. ¾ cup of thick curd
  3. 2 cups Water + 3 tblsps for gravy mixture
  4. Salt as per taste

For the coconut gravy mixture –

  1. ½ cup of grated coconut
  2. 1 tblsp Chana Dal or Bengal gram dal
  3. ½ tsp of Methi seeds or Fenugreek seeds
  4. 3-4 nos. of Whole Red chillies
  5. 2 tsps of coconut oil

For the tempering

  1. ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  2. 1-2 nos. of Whole Red chillies
  3. 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  4. Curry leaves

Method –

  1. First lets prepare the gravy mixture by heating a kadhai, adding some oil and then the Bengal gram or chana dal.
  2. Once it turns slightly brown, add the whole red chillies and the methi seeds. Saute and then quickly add the grated coconut, give it a quick stir and switch off the flame.
  3. Cool this completely and then transfer the contents to a mixer grinder jar, add few tblsps of water and grind into a smooth but thick paste. The Gravy Mixture is ready.
  4. Now, in a kadhai or vessel, add 2 cups of water to one bunch of roughly chopped spinach. Let it boil for a minute or so and then quickly switch off the flame and drain the water (not completely), reserve the spinach leaves and quickly add some ice to it to ensure the cooking stops and the green colour is retained.
  5. Grind the wilted spinach to a smooth paste. Don’t use any water for grinding.
  6. Heat a pan on a low flame, add the spinach puree, the gravy mixture of coconut and add some salt. Mix everything together. Adjust the thickness by adding some reserved spinach water.
  7. Once it reaches a boil, add the whisked curd and give it one good stir. Wait for another boil and immediately switch off the flame and prepare the tempering.
  8. Heat a tadka pan and add some oil, mustard seeds and once it crackles, add the whole red chillies and curry leaves. Pour this over the spinach gravy and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes-

  • For Point No. 4 in method of preparation section, you may choose to pressure cook your spinach for 1 whistle too but since I don’t prefer overcooking leafy veggies, I choose to follow the quick process of wilting the leaves and then shocking them in ice cold water, similar to what is done in case of cooking Palak Paneer to retain that gorgeous green colour.
  • Unlike Sambar, this doesn’t have a dal or lentils mixture so the thickening is provided by the combination of chana dal and the grated coconut mixture. Hence do not add too much water while grinding the gravy mixture. Some choose to add a tblsp of rice powder to thicken the gravy but I avoid the same.
  • The yoghurt / curd should not be very tangy. However, few people do prefer tangy / sour curd to be added but we don’t use the same. Thick curd to be beaten well for a few seconds to be added only at the final stage as it leads to splitting if overcooked.
  • Also avoid heating this gravy too many times as it contains curd. If you are expecting guests, just wait until they arrive and then add the curd to the mixture, bring it to a single boil and switch off the flame and then add the tempering etc.
  • If you don’t like the flavor of methi seeds, reduce the quantity but don’t skip the same. It adds a great aroma to the gravy.
  • I have mentioned water as 2 cups for 1 bunch of spinach. The bunch I used was very small say 200 gms. Also, I have retained the water post cooking of the spinach to ensure no loss of nutrients and added the same to adjust the consistency of the gravy.
  • My MIL gave tadkas or tempering in sesame oil but since I prefer Coconut oil, have used the same.

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Vidya Narayan

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Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 44 Comments

  1. PS

    This is delish!!! And indeed saree compliments the looks..

  2. Priya Suresh

    What a super delicious mor keerai, its been a while i prepared this flavoursome rich healthy dish. Fingerlicking goodness Vidya, my mouth is already watering here. Personally this dish is definitely a best way to sneak greens, especially an easy way to feed kids with. Well done.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      I can imagine what such gravies do to South Indians like us who love their rice and curries. haha.. Thanks dear.

  3. This is interesting and yummy recipe with so many nice flavours. Lovely write up & no doubt beautiful saree ??

  4. theyellowdaal

    Looks nice. Your sweet gesture is not un noticed. My her soul rip.

  5. Nivedita Thadani

    I will come to the recipe later. Very heart touching write up. I really appreciate you for the live and respect you have for your mother in law and Mom. You are a blessed soul.
    Mor Keerai- looks tasty and colourful. A healthy side dish and even kids will enjoy without any fuss for green vegetables. Lovely presentation.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you dear Nivedita for all the kind words and really feeling all the words I wrote. Missed your presence on my posts and the group and glad to see you back. I agree, kids and adults both would love this.

  6. Enjoyed reading Vidya. Lovely write up. Mor keerai looks so tempting. In Bengal we usually used curd and coconut in many Curries. I am drooling.

  7. Aruna

    Great way to combine spinach and dahi, and remain cool in summer. I am always curious about the coconut mix everyone uses. I do not use fenugreek in the ground masala, instead I add it to the tadka. I will try it your way soon.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      thanks dear, most of my gravy pastes have roasted fenugreek in them esp the ones which have buttermilk or curd in them. Tastes fantastic and somehow manages to cover the bitterness too. Do try, I am sure you will love it.

  8. I’ve never had this gravy. Sounds really yum, Vidya. Love the pic with the saree, a perfect ode to your MIL 🙂

  9. Balancing two different styles of cooking is a lot of skill! Despite being on two sides of Malabar and having similar food, I struggle with it too, since HD has totally different likes and trying to learn their style is totally driving me nuts, since the difference is just a thin line, but the taste differs totally! The Mor Keerai sounds like a delicious gravy for a hot day, and that meal with those potato roast… totally lipsmacking!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Guess we are both sailing in the same boat and learning to swim and sail both.. hahaha.. Cheers to that. Thanks a ton dear, potato roast is plain love.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      We make tons of recipes with Spinach. Add coconut, lentils, tamarind – sky is the limit. Thanks.

  10. marianasir1973

    It’s always a treat to read your blog posts, Vidya! This time I can feel the love and respect of generation , for each other and for good food, going into this particular dish.
    When it comes to spinach, I’m Popeye The Sailor Man ? Love spinach in any form! This curry and the cooking method is new to me but imaging all the ingredients, I know it shall be a hit at our place. ?

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Hi 5 on the Popeye Love and the Spinach love too my dear. Thanks a ton for always encouraging and keeping me going with your lovely words of appreciation. I hope you love this curry.

  11. Ritu Tangri

    Lovely write up Vidya…Recipe sounds interesting. I would love to try this so bookmarking. Can’t forget to mention how tempting those baby potatoes look…Superb!

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you for noticing those baby potatoes… they were definitely tasty when paired with the gravy. Glad you liked the post dear and thank you for the kind words.

  12. Jyoti Babel

    It was great knowing about your MIL. So sad that you didn’t get to meet her but happy that you are playing your part well. My knowledge of regional dishes from the south isn’t great. So, all I can say is I get to learn a couple of new things when I read your posts. Keep up the great work. I can see that you are working diligently on your food photography. I love the light and that wooden tray in the background. Very appealing pics overall

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you dear Jyoti for always going through the posts and a big thank you for the comment on the photos, trying and learning dear, hopefully will improve in times ahead with support of good friends like you.

  13. jayashreetrao

    Love this green colour yoghurt curry, coolant for summer and it is tasty.

  14. Jagruti

    Usually, I’ve seen or heard that DIL doesn’t want to know about anything of their MIL, unless there is a treasure of gold or property saved for them. So nice to see you here that you have shown the appreciation. Coming back to your recipe, what can I say? Thanks for sharing this recipe as I have one more recipe to feed my sunny boy as he loves anything with spinach 🙂

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Thank you so much for those kind words. Palak or any greens are our favourite too at home. Do try, I hope you will like it.

  15. Uma Srinivas

    Palak dish is always favorite to me. This is totally new to me. Healthy, nutritious side dish is always best for kids as well as adults. I will try to make this in vegan version 🙂

  16. cookingwithsapana

    I have never cooked with yogurt and coconut together, this green curry with spinach in the sauce sounds very inviting and must be delicious to pair with rice.

  17. Such an interesting and yummy share Vidya 🙂
    any green color dish is all time hit at my place. Superb !!!

  18. I absolutely love more keerai! It is a big-time favourite at home. 🙂
    Lovely recipe. We make it the same way too.

    1. Vidya Narayan

      Same here, very subtle flavours and good for everyday cooking. thank you so much.

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