Recipes: Keerai Masiyal aka Spinach Mash

Believed to be Persian in origin, Spinach had spread across Europe by the 12th century and is a storehouse of nutrients and antioxidents. Belonging to the amaranth family and related to beets and quinoa, spinach is well known for its nutritional qualities and has always been regarded as a plant with remarkable abilities to restore energy, increase vitality and improve the quality of the blood. Rich in iron which plays a central role in the function of red blood cells which help in transporting oxygen around the body, in energy production and DNA synthesis, spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate as well as being a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Eating spinach may benefit eye health, reduce oxidative stress, help prevent cancer, and reduce blood pressure levels.

My go-to recipes for spinach are usually Spinach Dal, Palak Paneer or Mor Keerai. But the other day, I had a some fresh spinach and a hankering for a good old-fashioned Masiyal which is a coarse blended paste of spinach mixed with a minimum of spices. This masiyal is a very healthy dish and is common in Tamil cooking and most households will have their own version of this dish. The version I make is the tambram version which does not use onions and garlic and is also very satvic in nature. This is a very quick recipe if you have spinach handy and can be made in 15-20 minutes and with other greens also.

Keerai Masiyal aka Spinach Mash

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 4 small green chillies
  • 1 tsp oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Chop the spinach and wash them in a large pan and drain.
  • Heat 1-2 cups of water and salt slightly. When the water boils, add the chopped spinach and the green chillies.
  • Let it boil till the spinach is cooked, which should not take long, about 5-6 minutes. Remove and drain the spinach and transfer it to a bowl with cold water. This will help preserve the colour of the spinach.
  • Once the spinach is cool, blend to a coarse paste and keep aside. You can also use a handheld blender or a buttermilk churn to blend the spinach. You can keep the texture as smooth or coarse as you like. Remove this to the pan and keep aside.
  • Heat the ghee or oil in a small skillet. When it warms, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Once the mustard seeds pop, add the urad dal, asafoetida and broken dried red chillies and stir until the urad dal is a nice golden colour. Pour this seasoning over the blended spinach.
  • Reheat the spinach and check for seasoning and add the sugar, if you are using it. Let it come to a boil and remove from the gas. Serve hot with rice and a sambar or kozambu of your choice.

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