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Keerai Kootu (Spinach & Dal Curry)

 Published 2017-Jun-28   Updated 2017-Jul-23

- Submitted by Dahlia

(Spinach Curry, Manathakkali Keerai Kootu)

Kootu is a traditional dish from the state of Tamilnadu, though its variations are made throughout India. It is nothing but a semi solid curry made with cooked lentils and some vegetables. In all traditional Tamil meals served in weddings or restaurants, it is common to find any one type of kootu. At homes, people make kootu along with white rice and some papad, thogayal or pickle. Since it has veggies and lentils, it makes a complete meal when served with rice. The good thing about kootu is that even kids enjoy it without realizing the vegetables that are added within.

Today I am going to share the best of all kootu varieties i.e the one made with greens known as keerai kootu. Any type of greens can be used in this recipe. I have used Manathakkali Keerai today. If you live in Tamilnadu, you can replace with any type of keerai like arai keerai, siru keerai, pasalai keerai, paruppu keerai etc. I have also tried with greens available abroad like mustard greens, collard greens and turnip greens. The result was fantastic.

The kootu as such is thicker than the usual dal preparations. I recently shared palak dal recipe. It has more lentils and water to bring it to a thick liquid consistency. However kootu will have lesser dal and will be semi solid. Another similar dish made in Kerala is known as Molagootal. I am sure there are similar variations in other states too. Do try out the recipe with any type of greens that you find.

Recipe for Manathakkali Keerai Kootu

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4


  • Greens (I used Manathakkali Keerai) - about 2 cups packed(chopped)
  • Moong Dhal (Paasi Paruppu) - 1/4 cup
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - to taste

For grinding

  • Grated Coconut - 1/4 cup
  • Shallots - 4 (optional)
  • Garlic - 2 cloves (optional)
  • Green Chilies - 2
  • Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp

For Tempering

  • Oil - 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Urid dal - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Dry red chilies - 2
  • Asafoetida - a pinch


  1. Wash and pressure cook the moong dal for 2 whistles.
  2. Wash the greens 2-3 times to remove all dirt. Pluck the leaves of the keerai and chop it into small pieces. If the stem is tender, you can chop it into small pieces and use that too.
  3. Grate the coconut and make a coarse paste of it alog with cumin seeds and green chilies. Some people like to make a paste along with shallots and garlic. Brahmins and others prefer to make it with no onion and no garlic. The choice is yours.
  4. Once all of the above is ready, the curry can be prepared quickly. Heat some oil in a pan and pop the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, urad dal, dry red chilies and curry leaves. Do this in medium flame so that urad dal doesn't turn black in color.
  5. When urad dal becomes golden brown color, add chopped spinach. Saute for few minutes till the greens wilt.
  6. Add the cooked lentils, ground coconut paste and some water. Mix everything properly. Add water to bring it to a thick semi solid consistency.
  7. Bring it to boil, simmer for few minutes and switch off.


  • Toor dal or Masoor dal or Channa dal can also be used instead of moong dal.

Serving Keerai Kootu

  • This kootu can be served with rice as a curry with some thogayal or pickle. 1 tsp of ghee can be added at the last for added flavor.
  • It can also be served as a side-dish for rice and vathal kulambu.
  • It can also be served as a soup or as a dal with chapatti.

More Greens Recipes

Mudakathan Keerai Kashayam Mudakathan Keerai Kashayam Spinach Curd Curry Spinach Curd Curry Green Smoothie Green Smoothie Keerai Masiyal with Paruppu Keerai Masiyal with Paruppu
See more...

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 Published by on and last updated on 2017-07-23.