Few dishes can beat the simplicity of Keerai Masiyal. However, as a child, this was not my favoured dish. I have pretended every ailment to escape eating this ‘ green paste’. Now I am better able to appreciate it’s subtlety of flavour, the health benefits, ease of preparation, and the brilliant hue of this humble dish. When the summer heat is making cooking a painful chore, I urge you to try this out. Can be put together in under 15 minutes, needs very few ingredients, and supremely healthy, what’s not to like?
I have used Palak in this dish, but Amaranth, Arai Keerai, Siru Keerai, can also be used. In fact, using different greens in rotation brings each one’s unique health benefits to the table.
- Agathi Keerai has more than 12 times the Calcium found in Palak and more than 3 times that found in Methi leaves.
- Radish Leaves, Siru Keerai, Arai Keerai, Manathakkali Keerai and Paruppu Keerai are all very rich in Iron. They have more than 3 times the Iron found in Agathi Keerai or Palak .
- Amaranth and Agathi Keerai lead in Vitamin C while Palak, Mint and Amaranth lead in Folic Acid content.
- Paruppu Keerai and Palak have a low Sodium and high Potassium combination which makes it ideal for people with high BP or kidney ailments or gout.
In a survey conducted by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB), Indians were found to consume far lesser (average - 48gm/day) than the recommended 300 gm vegetables per day.Of this RDA of 300 gm, The National Institute of Nutrition, recommends at least 100 gm greens per person per day.
Here is the Food Pyramid picture as released by the National Institute of Nutrition, 2011. It helps to form a visual idea of what should be on our plate everyday!
Finally to the recipe of the day -
- Palak or any other greens – 4 packed cups of leaves.
- Salt – 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp ( use as needed)
For seasoning -
- Oil – 2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Urad Dal – 2 tbsp
- Red Chilli – 2, broken into halves
- Grated fresh coconut – 1/2 tsp (optional)
To Assemble -
- Pick leaves and tender stems. Discard stems that are thick. Measure 4 packed cups.
- Wash well in a colander in several batches. Or fill water in the kitchen sink and submerge the greens in the sink tub. This is a great way to wash quickly and effectively.
- Drain well. Chop roughly. Any size and shape will do. It needs to be blended anyway.
- Place a large wok on heat, add the greens and let it cook in it’s own juices. If it looks like it is sticking to the bottom of the pan, add half a cup of water. stir through a couple of times so that the greens get cooked uniformly. After 5-7 minutes, the greens should be just cooked enough. Cool and grind to smooth paste with any water that may be left over in the pan.
- Return the puree to the wok, place wok over fire, rinse the blender jar with 1/4 cup water, add that too to the wok. Add salt, mix well, taste and add more as/if needed.
- To a small seasoning pan, add oil, place over heat, add mustard seeds, urad dal, red chillies. When you hear happy crackles, enjoy the sizzle and the aroma, pour it into the Masiyal before it chars! If using grated coconut, add it to the seasoning pan last, stir around until the coconut turns a golden hue and pour over the Masiyal.
- Enjoy hot with steamed rice, sambar and a cucumber carrot salad with lemon dressing. Vitamin C in the lemon juice helps in better iron absorption.
- For local and botanical names of all the Greens mentioned in this post, please refer to Glossary of Ingredients Page.
- To retain nutrients in greens cook in just enough water until just cooked. Do not discard the water, use it up in the recipe.
- To retain the colour of greens, add half a tsp sugar while cooking, leave pan uncovered, cook quickly over high heat instead of low flame for a longer time.
- Add a sliced onion and couple of crushed garlic cloves to the seasoning for a twist in flavour.