This was back when I was too young to realise how special a home-grown, organic bunch of spinach actually is. My grand mom would spend hours squatting near them as they grew, often plucking out worms and caterpillars by hand. She was quite an edible gardener, my grand mom. Of all the vegetables we grew on our terrace, spinach was the most successful and most loved by her. She would make a Reddiar-style masiyal (we call it sithondu kooraku) with them which looked like ground henna leaves but was out of this world in its simplicity and flavour.
I don’t remember eating a lot of Spinach Kootu as a child but this one is a favourite now and I serve it with both rasam and rice and also chapatis. For pairing with kootu, pick a rasam without dal, like this tomato rasam or this pepper rasam.
SPINACH KOOTU RECIPE
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
3/4 cup of moong dal (cherupayar, paasi paruppu)
3 cups of packed, chopped spinach leaves
1 tomato (optional)
1/3 cup of grated coconut
1 tsp of cumin seeds (jeera, jeerakam)
1/2 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp of oil
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1. Wash the dal and add to a large cooking pot along with the spinach, chopped tomato (if using), turmeric, and 2 cups of water.
2. Simmer until the ingredients are cooked and soft. This takes about 10-12 mins on low flame. If not done, cook longer and add more water if required.
3. Meanwhile, grind together coconut + shallots + garlic + red chilli powder + cumin seeds with some water to a smooth paste.
4. Add this to the cooked dal mixture along with 1 cup water. Note that if the cooked dal is watery, you can skip adding more.
5. Simmer for another 5-8 mins. Add salt.
6. Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add to the cooked kootu. Mix well.
Serve spinach kootu hot with rasam and rice or chapati / roti. You can make this kootu with chana dal (kadala paruppu) too.