Keerai Masiyal is a flavorful spinach dish made with minimalist ingredients. In Tanjore cuisine, keerai does not have significant place. Geographically Tanjore region is a fertile belt and normally paddy, banana, sugarcane and pulses are the primary food grown. Vegetable growth in this region is mostly brinjal, ladies finger and gourd varieties only. The cuisine is also dominated with locally available vegetables only.
In terms of keerai, Mulaikeerai and Manathakkali keerai are the commonly available greens in our area. Apart from these we get Agathi keerai and Murunga Keerai. Both Agathi and Murunga keerai are medicinal in nature. They should not be consumed often. Also with certain medicines they interact and believe to make medicine in effective. Agathi should be consumed once a fortnight (typically in Dwadasi) and Murunga keerai once a week.
They are also cooked in various forms as curry, masiyal and kootu. Keerai masiyal in Tanjore cuisine has only the greens seasoned with spices and salt. It is quite easy to make and richness of the green can be felt while cooking itself. In the hotels they add dals and spice paste to increase quantity. At home, it is prepared as below.
- 1 bunch Mulaikeerai Tender ones preferred
- 1/4 Tsp Salt Adjust to taste
- 1 Tbsp Oil
- 1/4 Tsp Split Urad dal
- 1/4 Tsp mustard
- 1/4 Tsp Jeera
- 1 Spring Curry leaves
- 1 Nos Dry red chilli
Please see the picture below to see Mulaikeerai. It is a green normally available with the stem. It is available as full green, green leaves with pink stem (as seen below) and pink leaves with pink stem. The pink ones are bit bitter and hence I do not use them for masiyal, I rather make kootu with it. In the keerai bunch always choose a tender one. Tender keerai will have stems that are tender. You can break one to see if you are getting fiber. The less the fiber more the tender keerai is.
De-stem the keerai. You can use the stem part in cooking. Wash and drain de-stemmed keerai.
Finely chop the keerai. Add few spoons of water and cook keerai. I had cooked it in small pressure cooker for 1 whistle. It takes about 2 minutes in the cooker. You can cook it in any vessel. Keerai should not be overcooked. If overcooked, both color and nutrition would be lost.
Add salt to the keerai after making sure the quantity. Tender ones would shrink considerably. In the picture below you can see that my keerai got reduced to one laddle. Adjust salt to the quantity of cooked keerai.
In a kadai, heat oil. Add mustard first. Once it splutters, add urad dal and red chilli in low flame, When dal turns golden, add jeera and switch off the flame. Add curry leaves in the heat of the oil itself. Add the tempered items to the keerai.
* You can make masiyal with Arai keerai also. But Arai keerai stems are hard and hence for making masiyal you should use only the leaves. Also while tempering Arai keerai, add one more chilli. Arai keerai is slightly more bitter, and hence spice has to be adjusted.
*Masiyal is traditionally cooked and mashed in earthernware (Manpanai or Manchatti). Also traditionally mashed in wooden matthu made from Mango wood. The matthu adds the mango flavor to the dish. I do not have any of these, and hence used pressure cooker with Hindalium mattu. My mother makes them with traditional utensils and the flavor and taste are highly elevated.
Keerai Masiyal – Step by Step instructions
*Destem keerai and wash them.
*Chop them finely and cook them till tender.
*Add the tempering and mix well and serve.
Related: Have you tried Manathakkali keerai Drumstick kootu. It is an authentic preparation. Do try and let me know.
Do let me know your feedback on the recipe in the comments section below. You can also comment using any of the social media options available. Your feedback provides encouragement to me.