Spinach or keerai molagootal

'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:

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.

This is a regular dish at my home as we all love it with hot rice and a dash of mango pickle - Avakkai. I am afraid it doesn't taste nice with roti so try first with rice!

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