Keerai Masiyal - Simple Spinach Mash

Masiyal is ready! Our lunch today with Mor Kozhambu, Beans Paruppusuli and Rice

Since my mom is here to stay with us for a few days, it is my pleasure to present / record some really simple traditional recipes like Keerai Masiyal.

According to my knowledge, there are three common dishes made with Spinach in Tambram cuisine. The first one being the simple mashed spinach or Masiyal ( Masikka means 'to mash' in Tamil) , the second one being Keerai Kootan / Keerai Milagootal which is a delicately spiced spinach - lentil preparation had with rice and the third (and my not-so-favourite) Pulikkeerai or spinach soured with tamarind. There is also a fourth variety in which cooked udad dal is added to mashed spinach. The recipe I'm sharing today is Keerai Masiyal or very simple mashed spinach that can be served as a side when you are just in the mood for some steamed rice and dal. This one also goes fantastic when mixed with some sambar and had along with yogurt rice (tairsaadam).

This is a fine example of typical Tamil Brahmin cuisine, where less is always more and the flavours of the main ingredient are relied upon to the maximum without adding strong flavours like onion or garlic.

Keerai Masiyal
Category - Greens, Tambram recipes, Side, low-carb
Time taken - Under 30 minutes
Recipe source- Traditional tamil brahmin recipe
Makes - 2 cups of mash, serves 4 as a side along with rice

2 fat bunches of spinach (7-8 cups of finely chopped spinach and thin stems - excluding the thick stems)
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp udad dal
2 dried red chillies, broken into pieces
1 heaped tsp rice flour dissolved in 2 tbsp water (You can use wheat flour alternatively)

special equipment
a stone-pot or kal-chatti is the best option, followed by a heavy cast iron pot.
a rounded heavy wooden / iron spoon for mashing

In a very heavy bottom pan (traditionally a kal-chatti /heavy stone pot) place the chopped spinach leaves with half cup water. Keep the flame on medium high. It will take 6-7 minutes for spinach to completely wilt and release the water content.

Keep mashing the spinach in the pot with the heavy iron /wooden spoon. Once thoroughly cooked, remove the pot from flame. Keep it on the counter top and mash well for 3-4 minutes, until the spinach is creamy. Add salt to taste.

In a small skillet, place 1 tsp of oil and put in the udad dal. Fry until light golden, and then add the red chillies. Saute for a few seconds until crisp and slide the tempering onto the mashed spinach. Add the rice flour-water mix into the pot as well, place it back on the flame, let the whole mix come to a simmer. The rice flour will get cooked and flavours of the tempering will merge into the mash.

Serve hot with rice.

Since there are very few ingredients, it is best to use the freshest possible spinach for this dish. Frozen spinach could work well too. We always use regular spinach, but I guess baby spinach would work as well.

Finally I get to send something for Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables - M for Masiyal
I would also like to submit this in addition to this for RCI - Tamil Cuisine


Meeta said...

Sounds really interesting Nandita. I would love to try out something that you and your mum made ;-)
Say hi to her from me!

Anita said...

Yay, you're back! And we can look forward to some really special dishes now that your mom's here too!

Not to say that what you present is not special...but we are still waiting for the aloo!

This spinach dish looks simple and it is always good to know what else can be done with spinach.

Seema said...

This spinach dish looks so so very simple and easy. I bet it must have been tasting good to. Convey my regards to your mom

Rookie said...

Hi Nandita,

I am a lurker, but had to comment on seeing your photo. That is EXACTLY how it is made at my home in Madras, kal-chatti and all! Now I miss my grandma :)


bee said...

i missed ya. great to see you back. i never tire of this dish with thayir chadam. have you tried it with amaranth (cheera)?

it's even better.

Sandeepa said...

Oh My...what a nice dish, very different from what I have had so far with spinach

Have fun with your Ma while she is with you. Mine leaves for India this Saturday, sob, sob !!

Sig said...

Hey sweetums, were you sleeping off all that heavy partying from your trip? I was beginning to worry here... :)

That looks yummy, love spinach in any form, never had it like this though, sounds very interesting!

Have fun with your mom, isn't it nice to have her making you all these yummy things?

Nupur said...

Nandita, what a great post! I love the way you have described all the different ways that spinach is cooked in Tamil cuisine (they all sound so good) and the masiyal looks awesome. Thanks for participating!

sra said...

Hi Nandita, when you say spinach, do you mean Delhi paalak or pasalakeerai?

DEEPA said...

Hey Nanditha

My Favt of all the dishes .I love it like anything .I make this dish at least once a week at home ..Really Yuummmmyyyyyy said...

Hi Nandita,

My mamiar taught me to make this with the modern invention of the hand blender! It works really well.


Anjali said...

Hey Nandita good to see your blog updated. So you enjoyed a lot I guess.

Mallika said...

Lovely, simple recipe. I must try this out soon.

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Sheela said...

keerai masiyal with little bits of coconut studded - my idea of wholesome simplicity. thanks for writing about this and for the nutritional info and for keeping it wonderfully entertaining...

kamla bhatt said...

You know I am always confused when cooking spinach the Tamil way...I guess the spicing or tadka is ever so subtle that neither my pahari nose or tongue can detect the difference. The urad dhal does not make any differene when compared to plain old spinach that has been microwaved and cooked and spike itwith some salt and better. Maybe I am missing something.

Would you happen to know what flavor "urad" or "ulathamparuppu" imparts as a flavoring agent?

I can understand urad, mustard, curry leaves and chillies, but cannot comrehend adding just urad dhal.



Bharathy. said...

Hi nandita,
Great to see keerai masiyal,mashed in the most traditional way in a kalchatti with a mathu(i suppose)..which gives the original goodness of the dish.I make this dish using mulai keerai.Out of sheer laziness I use the blender..

Smitha said...

Hey Nandita,
Nice blog you have here. My personal favorite is keerai masiyal with vathakuzambu. Never tried it with morekuzhambu. Love the kacchati..what a beauty!

Nupur said...

This is an incredible dish, Nandita! I made it for the "less is more" event and enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing the recipe in such detail!

Divya said...

I tried this dish and it came out well. This one is easy to prepare and tasty too. Thanks!

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