Morkeerai or Spinach and yogurt stew : Garden to plate

TamBrahm cooking or the recipes from Tamil Brahmin households could well vary from house to house. While I've eaten Tambrahm food all through my growing years (albeit sometimes reluctantly) - when this recipe for Morkeerai came to me for posting in Tambrahmrage Cooks - I was surprised I've never eaten this. I'd never even heard my grandmum, aunts or mum mention this ever. 

Spinach patch
Chilli Plant
Plucked and ready for the recipe
Spinach seeds

Since we have having a good crop of spinach and chillies currently in our small terrace garden, this seemed like the perfect way to use freshly grown produce. The procedure to make this Mor-Keerai (more:buttermilk and Keerai:spinach in Tamil) seemed to be like that for Mor-Kozhambu. Grind fresh spice paste with coconut, add it to sour yogurt / thick buttermilk and bring to a simmer. Spinach was an addition to the regular mor-kozhambu recipe.

I loved the subtle flavours of this stew. You can use any seasonal fresh greens such as amaranth, water amaranth, agathi keerai or Bathua. I have promptly passed this recipe on to my mom.

 More Keerai served with Carrot Curry and Brown Rice

Recipe for Mor Keerai
Spinach and yogurt stew
Serves 3-4 
Originally posted on our other blog 

2 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp raw rice
1/3 - 1/2 cup coconut scrapings
2 sprigs curry leaves
Handful of coriander leaves
4-6 green chillies
2 cups thick yogurt
3 packed cups of finely chopped spinach leaves
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp udad dal
pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp pure coconut oil (optional)


1. Soak 2 tbsp chana dal and 1 tbsp rice for about half hour.
2. Grind to a fine paste: 
1/3 - 1/2 cup coconut scrapings 2 sprigs curry leavesHandful of coriander leaves4-6 green chillies-depending on how spicy they are& the soaked chana dal and rice.
3. Mix this paste into roughly 2 cups of thick sour yogurt
4. Wash and finely chop spinach leaves to get 3 cups packed
5. In a kadai, heat 1 tsp oil-temper 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 2 tsp udad dal and pinch of asafoetida. Add chopped spinach with a pinch of salt. Saute for a few minutes until wilted. Sprinkle some water and let the spinach cook thoroughly. 
6. Add the curds with spice paste to the cooked spinach and salt as required. Once this starts frothing, remove from flame and garnish with pure coconut oil. Dont let the curds boil or it will split.
Serve with hot rice and a vegetable curry.

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