3 June 2008

Traditional Lunch Series - Day 3 ( Keerai Milagoottal, Cabbage Curry )

Yesterday I managed to get some fresh spinach at my local grocery shop. Cabbage is another thing I always pick up on my visits. It is a useful thing for making simple saute curry for lunch, or koottu. For dinners, it adds crunch to our noodles / fried rice - and I even use it to add bulk to left over dosa batter to make crunchy uthapams for breakfast.

Spinach is best used on the same day or at max the following day. That's how Keerai Milagootal managed to feature on today's menu. The ideal partner to this would be a potato roast (always ideal for everything :) or a sliced plantain roast. Since I rarely find the slender plantains suited for this curry, cabbage seemed the next best option.

Milagoottal or Kootan is a Kerala derivative into Tamil cuisine and since my roots are in Tirunelveli which is almost close to the Kerala border, some of our dishes have the 'ubiquitous to Kerala' coconut ground in the gravy of the vegetables. Aviyal is as much our cuisine as much as it is a part of the Keralite sadya. So is the milagoottal, which we call Keerai Kootan at home. This goes well with a mangai pachidi, in which the tender mangoes that have been used to make the vadumangai pickle are removed from the spicy brine, washed and ground to a coarse paste, which is then mixed into yogurt.

For me, there is no better way to consume spinach. Mashed fresh spinach leaves mixed with mashed cooked paruppu (tur dal) and spiced with a mix of fried red chillies-udad dal - black pepper-rice grains is the perfect way to get my dose of iron, protein and comfort for the day!

Recipe for Keerai Kootan
Serves 3-4

Step I - Preparing the spinach
Take 2 bunches spinach. Pluck the leaves and tender stems. Washed thoroughly in bucket of sink full of water, several times. Chop finely. In a heavy pan, place the chopped spinach with a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup water. Boil the spinach till wilted and mash with back of a round ladle. Do not cover while cooking to retain green colour.

Step II- For spice paste
Fry the following in 1/2 tsp oil in a wok till dal turns golden-
1 tbsp udad dal
3 medium dried red chillies
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tbsp rice (uncooked raw grains)

Grind the above with 1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut, using upto 1/4 cup water into a fine paste. Remove from blender and keep aside.

Step III - Paruppu (dal)
Take under 3/4 cup of tur dal, wash well, pressure cook till very soft with 2 cups water. (2 whistles and on sim for 5 minutes)
Mash this well with a ladle. Keep aside.

Step IV - Assembling all 3 parts and tempering the kootan
In a pan with the mashed spinach, add the mashed dal and the ground spice paste. Stir to mix well. Add salt to taste. Bring to a simmer. Remove from flame.
For tempering - heat 1 tsp oil, to this add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp udad dal, few curry leaves. Once seeds splutter and dal turns golden, transfer this tempering over the prepared kootan.

Serve hot with rice.

This is the simplest possible preparation of cabbage which my mom makes often and beautifully well. Readers will be aware that I keep ranting about how Tamil Brahmin cooking keeps things basic, utterly simple and yet superb to taste. No over cooking, no over spicing and not much oil either - all working towards bringing out the true flavour of vegetables. As I say, we are not afraid to taste the real vegetable in the dish :)

Recipe for Cabbage Curry
Serves 3

4-5 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 tsp oil
2 dried red chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp udad dal
1/2-1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh grated coconut

In a large wok, heat the oil. Splutter mustard seeds, fry the broken red chillies and udad dal for 30 seconds.
Add the finely chopped cabbage, salt and stir for a few seconds.
Sprinkle some water, cover and cook for a total for 8-10 minutes taking care to open, sprinkle water and stir every 2 minutes so that the cabbage does not burn.
Once cooked, remove from flame, garnish with fresh coconut and serve hot.

Lunch Series so far

Day 1
- Vengaya Sambar, Vendakkai curry, Potato Roast
Day 2 - Peerkangai thuvaiyal, Red Chauli
Day 3 - Keerai Milagoottal, Cabbage curry


Raaga said...

We're also having very traditional food these days... :-) konkani, tamil and telugu :-) one at each meal.

Shalini said...

Being Kerala Iyers,Keerai Molagootal is a weekly feature in our house.Mom makes a tomato pachadi with it.I used to love the combo with a huge pappadam.

Nandita said...

Raaga - very nice :) You have three traditions to follow as against my one :P

Shalini - any pacchidi goes so well with this one :) and papaddams make everything taste good, isn't it?

Kamini said...

Keerai Molagootal is a regular item at my parents' place, too, and one of my favorite dishes. You are so right about the simplicity of preparation, which makes each ingredient shine and sing!

shyam said...

Nandita: Your roots in Tirunelveli as well? Tell me you're from Kadayam and I'm prepared to faint from the shock :)

I'm going to make molagootal with kale now.

Deepa said...

Nandita, DO you think we should officially all change the spelling of dry subzis to "kari" instead of "curry"? It just seems like "curry" has been so redefined in the West to be something with gravy. SOmething punjabi, typically. --Deepa

ranji said...

wow!!i love this platter...simple things are the best ..must have been so tasty..

Deepa said...

Nandita, I forgot to add earlier, I really want to see your vatra kuzhambu recipe. --Deepa

Shilpa said...

Oh I love those traditional meals. Adding cabbage to uttappam is a nice idea, i have to try it sometime. I am gonnu try this spinach dish when I buy spinach next time.

Jayashree said...

Like your new series.....Vengaya sambar and potato roast is the usual combo in my home too.....It's nice to see someone blogging about simple everyday recipes....

A-kay said...

Love this traditional lunch series. The best way to consume spinach for me is the keerai masiyal. Keerai masiyal with vatha kozhambu is my all-time favorite traditional meal :)

masalamagic said...

comfort food for me! we make keerai masiyal but have not made this with toor dal before, will surely have to try it! Your lasuni palak dal is still an all tiem favorite at our home! I make it so often that it has become my "adopted" recipe :-)

Nandita said...

Kamini - It is such a comfort food and if a fried appalam is there for company then true nirvana :)

Shyam - OK, now hope you have someone to hold you, my greatgrandma is from Kadayam :)And she has told me so many stories of how their house would have a room to hold all the coconuts from their trees and much more - BTW, I tried your Eggless Carrot Cake yday - romba romba super aa irundhudhu, despite making some changes due to lack of ingredients- will post that soon :) Thanks!

Deepa - Kari sounds like something else all together...we are the original 'curry' makers, the world continues to live in oblivion, so so be it :P Vathal kozhambu coming up soon ma'am!

Ranji - Thanks dear, you are right about the taste!

Shilpa - Do let me now how you liked our version of dal palak :)

Jayashree - hope you enjoyed the classic combo! It's going to be simple meals blogging for a while now.

A-Kay - Had blogged my mom's keerai masiyal earlier. But i like this one better as it gives more bang for a bunch of spinach.

Latha - do let me know how you liked it...masiyal is one keerai dish, this is the second and pulikeerai is the third, where some tamarind is added to the masiyal.

Gardenia said...

Aah, I wish I could subsscribe to this feed. As in, actually get a tiffin box full of it. And to think that I'm salivating over this entry immediately after having eaten my meal. Nandita, what accuracy - that chutney made with little Kanni manga and all. And, as always, great pictures.

Nandita said...

Gardenia - that is indeed a delightful thought, not just a word feed but an actual feed - only a creative writer like you can think of something like that! For now, at least take a VIRTUAL feed of this :)

monica said...

Ooh I love cabbage curry. Is udad dal the same as urad dal?

Deepa said...

Since there're usually TONS of comments on your site, could you perhaps change the color of "Post your comment"? Would make the thing easier to find! Just a suggestion.

Meanwhile I am cooking cabbage "curry" (ok!) as I type and I had to rush over to see what you did as far as water was concerned. So I'll follow your dirns and go sprinkle water every 2 mins, for up to 10 mins.

I really am SO enjoying all your blogs. Thanks. Makes you feel so connected to friends and perfect strangers to be discussing everyday things like this. --Deepa

Swati Raman Garg said...

i love love love keerai kootu ... too good... u remind me of my lunches at home when amma was there.... it was exactly like this... wonderful series nandita.. u r simply too good...

MA said...

Tried the keerai milagoottal. Was appreciated. Thank you. I have become a regular visitor to your blog.

Swetha said...

i recently came accross your blog and like your blog. i have also started a foodblog recently.keep up your good work and i wish u a very success.



Mamta said...

I tried this today. Had to substitute to frozen spinach and add a bit of coconut milk (tinned) instead of fresh coconut. Was really yummy! Just right when temp dipped to 1 C!

Divya Shankar said...

Awesome .. totally delectable. This combination is pretty common in our house too as we hail from Tirunelveli-kerala border areas.
Have always added 1tsp jeera in list of "to-grind" ingredients, never used raw rice, any specific reason for grinding raw rice - please let me know.

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