Keerai Milagootal/Spinach Milagootal/Spinach kootu/Keerai Dal
Milagootal is a very traditional dish from kerala. It is similar to kootu made in Tamilnadu. While kootu is used as a side dish for rasam or thugayal in Tamilnadu , milagootal is a dish on its own eaten with curries or pickles.
The interesting part is that the name milagootal(milagu-pepper) gives the impression of adding pepper to the dish but there is no pepper in the dish. Milagootal is a comfort food that can also be used like a soup. The best comforting food during/after a fever or cold would be rasam and simple kootu. The ingredients are easy to digest yet they give strength.
Spinach- 1 bag(225 g)
Cooked Toor Dhal or Moong Dhal- 1/2 cup
Salt- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1tsp
Coconut grated- 1/4 cup
Green Chilies- 1-2 (Here I used dry red chilies as variation, though green or red can be used)
Urad dhal- 1 tsp
Broken red chili-1 piece
Curry leaves- 4 leaves
Urad dhal- 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil- 1 tsp
Asafoetida- 1 pinch
Wash and drain the fresh spinach. Chop coarsely and drop it in a pan with minimum water(1/2 cup) as spinach itself will give out water. Add a dash of turmeric powder and salt and cover and cook till spinach is tender. If using frozen spinach, thaw it well in the pan with some water.
In a tempering pan, dry fry the urad dal and the red chili(green chili can be used as such). Remove from fire and add it to a blender along with grated coconut, and cumin seeds. Blend to a smooth and thick paste with a little amount of water.
Mash the cooked toor dhal with a cup of water.
When the spinach is 3/4th cooked and starts to look tender(changes color), add the mashed toor dhal, mix well and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Now add the ground paste and combine well. Let it cook for a minute or two. Switch off. Do not over boil after adding coconut for any dish.
Add sesame oil in a pan and when the oil is hot add urad dal. When it turns golden color add cumin seeds, asafoetida, red chili and curry leaves. Pour this over the milagootal.
For the consistency to be like a kootu(thick and to be used a side dish) you can include one tsp of rice flour while adding the ground coconut paste. For serving it as milagootal, its ok if its a bit runny. To increase the quantity to serve more people if you have lesser quantity of spinach, add more ingredients like coconut in the ground paste and that will produce atleast 1/2 cup more kootu.
Serve hot with rice, poppadams, curry and pickle.
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