Keerai Molagootal is a classic Palakkad Iyer dish that is delicious, honest, and wholesome. It is an amalgam of coarsely pureed greens, toor dal (Tuvaram Paruppu), and coconut.
The great thing about Molagootal is that you can alter the ratio of the above three ingredients to suit your palette and the ingredients available. I’ve seen Keerai Molagootal that’s brown in color with just specks of green where coconut and dal play a predominant role. But I personally like a bright green-hued one, where the green leaves are the hero, followed by the Paruppu (lentils) for body and finally just enough coconut for binding the ingredients together.
This dish is traditionally made with hard leafy vegetables like Mulai Keerai (Amaranth leaves) or Arai Keerai, but it could very well be made with any kind of green leaves, such as Spinach or even Kale. The stems of Arai keerai and Mulai Keerai tend to be tough and so if you’re using these varieties of leaves, pick the leaves and keep the tender stems only. Roughly chop the leaves and proceed as per the recipe below. I’ve used Spinach here.
The consistency of Keerai Molagootal is dense and on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being solid and 10 being runny, Keerai Molagootal can feature anywhere 4-6. The flavor profile of Keerai Molagootal can be best described as mellow. You could make it spicy by adding more red chillies, but I personally like it mild. A mild molagootal is a great vehicle for the pungent and tangy flavors of the sides that it’s typically served.
A typical meal combination with Keera Molagootal would include, a puli pachadi or a puliyakutti uperi, Vendakkai/Mathan Aana Pachadi, sometimes thayir pachadi is served as an accompaniment,vepilai katti (balls made out of citron leaves), Vadu manga or salad. Rasam and thayir (yoghurt) act as second and third courses in most of the Palakkad Iyer Meal combo.
RECIPE FOR KEERAI MOLGOOTAL – SERVES 6
Spinach – 1 medium bunch or 1 1/4 cup of pureed greens or an 8 oz pkt
Tumeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup
Toor Dal (uncooked)- 1/3 cup
Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Urad Dal – 2 tsps
Red Chilli – 1
Coconut oil – 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil – 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Red Chilli – 1
- Roughly chop the spinach. Keep the tender stems only.
- Soak the toor dal (if needed) and pressure cook until well done. Keep aside
- Throw the chopped spinach into a pot along with the turmeric powder, salt, and water. Cook on medium with the lid on. Don’t overcook the greens. Cook just until the leaves have wilted. Let cool and coarsely puree using an immersion blender or mixer.
- Transfer the puree back into the pot. Add the cooked dal and mix.
- In a tadka pan, roast the urad dal and red chilli in 1/4 tsp of coconut oil until the urad dal has turned a dark red color.
- Grind the coconut along with the roasted urad dal and red chilli into a fine puree. I used about a 1/4 cup of water to make the paste.
- Add the ground coconut to the spinach and dal mixture. Mix well. Bring the mixture to a slow boil.
- While the molagootal’s coming up to a boil, make the tempering. Heat oil in a tadka pan. Splutter mustard seeds. Add urad dal and the red chilli. When the urad dal turns red, pour it on the molagootal and bring it to a boil.
- Check for salt and add more if needed. Also if you find the consistency of the Molagootal to be too thick, add some water. Serve hot with rice and accompaniments mentioned in the description.