Keerai Kozhambu


How to Cook Indian

Published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish, popular in the north as well as in the south, has many variations. The greens and lentils used change from cook to cook. What a delight it is to know that this healthy dish, when eaten with roti or rice, makes a fairly balanced meal.




Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish, starch, vegetable

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian


Taste and Texturechewy, creamy, spiced


  • 1 medium bunch spinach or green amaranth leaves, stemmed
  • ½ cup (100 grams) masoor dal (split red lentils)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1¾ teaspoons table salt
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 4 or 5 green chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind pulp
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon dhuli urad dal (split skinless black gram)
  • 1 dried red chile, stemmed and broken in half
  • 8 to 10 fresh curry leaves


  1. Put the spinach in a colander and wash it 2 or 3 times under running water. Drain well, and chop it finely. Set aside in a bowl. Wash the masoor dal in running water and drain.

  2. Place a nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add 2 cups (400 ml) water. When the water comes to a boil, add the masoor dal, turmeric, garlic, asafetida, ½ tablespoon of the vegetable oil, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook for 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

  3. Place another nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of vegetable oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, add the onion and sauté for 1½ minutes. Add the green chiles, tomato, and spinach, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tamarind pulp, the remaining 1½ teaspoons salt, and the cooked dal, and stir well. Add 1 1½ cups (300 ml) water, stir, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. In a small nonstick sauté pan, add the coconut oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, add the mustard seeds and cumin. When they sputter, add the fenugreek, dhuli urad dal, red chile, and curry leaves, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add this tempering to the masoor dal and stir well.

  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.


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