Keerai Kootu | Spinach and Lentils Curry with Coconut

Keerai Kootu | Spinach and Lentils Curry with Coconut


It’s January (at least for another 3 days). The one month of the year when you really really want to give healthy-eating a chance. Cause you never know when those resolutions, schmesolutions are going to give way to a more practical reality. Plus, it’s the month when you have the least excuse to bake a cookie or a cake. Unless of course, almost everyone in the family has a birthday to celebrate right after the holidays!


So, it’s no surprise that spinach makes it’s appearance at meal planning. But… I need a game plan to get D on board with the dish. There is but just 1 rule when trying to get D behind a rice and curry meal… make the sides the main players. That way, he’s oblivious to the main dish – the rice and curry, that is. While meat dishes usually help balance the meal perfectly and appease the hubby (and sonny I should say!), the combination of fragrant homemade-ghee melting over the steaming hot rice and curry along with appalams – that crunchy thing that childhood dreams are made of – often has the same effect, if not better! We actually have to exercise some portion control now 🙂

Hope ya’ll have a wonderful 2015 with great food and healthy times all year round!


Keerai Kootu | Spinach and Lentils Curry with Coconut

Serves: 4 | Cooking Time: 30 minutes


  1. 9 oz spinach, fresh or previously frozen and thawed
  2. 1/3 cup yellow moong dal
  3. salt to taste
  4. For the coconut paste:
    • 1/4 cup un-sweetened shredded coconut
    • 1 or 2 Thai/Indian green chilies
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  5. For the tempering:
    • 2 Tbsp coconut oil/ ghee/ cooking oil
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 1 tsp split urad dal seeds
    • 1 or 2 dry red chilies, broken
    • few curry leaves
    • 2 shallots or 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric powder
    • 1/4 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)






  1. Pressure cook the spinach and yellow moong dal, along with 1 to 1.5 cups water, until the dal can be easily mashed with a ladle.
  2. Make a paste of the coconut, 1 tsp cumin seeds and green chilies, with a little water if needed, and set aside.
  3. Add the cooked spinach and dal to a saute pan, and add the ground coconut paste to the dal mixture.
  4. Add salt, chili powder (optional) and some water (1/4 to 1/2 cup or as-needed) to thin down the consistency of the curry as desired.
  5. Bring the kootu curry to a simmer and turn off the heat.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the mustard, urad, curry leaves and red chilies to allow it to splutter but not burn.
  7. Add the onions and some salt, and saute on medium-high until it begins to turn golden brown.
  8. Add the ground spices (turmeric, red chili powder) and garlic and combine.
  9. Turn off the heat, and add the tempered onion mixture to the spinach and dal curry.

Serve hot with steamed rice, topped with ghee. Appalam/fryums are the perfect accompaniment!

3 Responses to “Keerai Kootu | Spinach and Lentils Curry with Coconut”
  1. Preeti says:

    Nothing like comfort food & aeasoning with browned onions sounds great!.

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