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Palak Keerai Kootu | Spinach Kootu

Kootu is mildly spiced coconut based South Indian stew with vegetables and lentils. Kootu is really easy to make and very healthy too. Kootu can be had with plain rice or served as a side dish for rasam or vathakuzhambu. Also see my other kootu recipes - bottlegourd kootu and chow-chow kootu.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite - keerai kootu. I have used palak/spinach to make this kootu but you can use other varieties of greens too. This keerai kootu can be had with rice and some vegetable curry. Since its mildly spiced, it goes well with vathakuzhambu and rasam. We enjoyed a hearty meal with this kootu, brinjal fry, jeera milagu rasam and hot piping rice!


{ Spinach and lentil dish with ground coconut, chillies and cumin }
Serves 2


1 bunch palak / spinach (about 150-200g)
¼ cup moong dal / paasi paruppu
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To grind:
3 tbsp grated coconut
2 green chillies
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp rice flour

To temper:
1 tsp coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 dry red chilly broken
Few curry leaves


1. Wash the dal and add ½ cup water, pinch of turmeric powder and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Once pressure releases, open and mash dal. Set aside.

2. Grind coconut, green chillies, jeera and rice flour to a paste adding little water.

3. Wash the spinach well to remove any sand or dirt and drain the water completely. Chop them finely.

4. Add the spinach to a vessel with salt, turmeric powder and ½ cup water and cook uncovered over medium heat.

5. Once the spinach is cooked, mash it with the ladle. Add the ground paste and bring to boil. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes.

6. Add dal and cook for another 2-3 minutes. In a pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add red chilly, curry leaves and pour over kootu.

Serving Suggestion ~ Rice or side-dish for rasam / vatha kuzhambu.

Notes and Tips
  • You can use 2 dry red chillies instead of green chillies.
  • The kootu generally has thick consistency. So add water according and once it has thickened slightly, remove from heat.

Karuveppilai Podi | Curry Leaves Powder

Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in South Indian cooking, especially for seasoning. Not only it has a unique aroma and taste, it has lot of medicinal properties. Curry leaves are a rich source of iron, calcium and vitamins. It is good for hair, eyes and even helps control cholesterol and diabetes. Apart from seasoning, curry leaves can be used to make kuzhambu(gravy), chutney or this spice powder.

Karuveppilai podi is a spicy and flavorful powder made with curry leaves, lentils and spices. I learnt this recipe from my grandmother. This aromatic powder can be served with idli and dosa, drizzled with sesame oil. If you want a quick lunch option, mix this powder with steaming rice along with ghee or sesame oil and serve with pappad/appalam. Store in an airtight container and it stays fresh for 2 weeks.


{  Spice powder with curry leaves, roasted lentils, red chillies and spices }
Makes 1 ½ cup


4 cups curry leaves, tightly packed
½ cup whole urad dal
10-12 dry red chillies
1 tsp asafoetida / hing
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
Salt to taste


1. Wash the curry leaves well and let it rest in the colander/sieve for 15 minutes. Then spread on a newspaper or cotton cloth and let it dry completely.

2. In a pan, dry roast the curry leaves until they turn crisp, taking care not to burn them. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. In the same pan, roast the urad dal on medium flame until golden. Transfer to the plate.Then fry the red chillies until crisp and set aside.

4. Dry roast the pepper and jeera until nice aroma comes. Lastly add hing and fry for few seconds. Transfer to the plate. Allow everything to cool.

5. Grind the dal, red chillies, pepper, jeera, asafoetida and salt coarsely. Then add the curry leaves and grind to a powder. Let the powder cool a little and then transfer to an air tight container.

Serving Suggestion ~ Idli/dosa with sesame oil or mix with rice and ghee.

Notes and Tips
  • You can roast the curry leaves in microwave oven too. Spread them on a plate and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until crisp.
  • Make sure that the curry leaves are completely dry and there is no moisture.
  • Adjust the amount of red chillies according to your spice preference.
  • Grind the powder to fine or little coarse as per your preference.

Carrot Zucchini Quick Bread

The theme for this month's Home Baker's Challenge was quick breads. Quick breads are breads that do not use yeast and are leavened with other leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda. Unlike yeast breads, quick breads do not require kneading or rising and they rise when baked. This month's host Priya suggested few interesting quick bread recipes, from which I tried the carrot zucchini bread.

This is the first time I'm trying a quick bread with veggies and I'm glad I did. The carrot zucchini bread turned out soft and moist. It tasted more between a bread and a cake with a light hint of spices and the right amount of sweetness. This quick bread is ideal to serve with your evening tea or coffee. Let's see how to make this delicious quick bread with carrot and zucchini.


{ Quick bread with carrot, zucchini and spices }
Recipe Source ~ Alida's Kitchen
Makes a 9x5 loaf


¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
¼ unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup grated zucchini
1 ½ cup grated carrot


1. Preheat oven to 180° C | 350° F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside. Squeeze out the excess water from zucchini after grating.

2. In a bowl, whisk all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add oil, applesauce, vanilla and whisk until well blended. Add sugar and whisk until combined.

4. Stir the carrot and zucchini into the mixture. Then add the flour mixture and gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Let the bread cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Then move to wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Notes and Tips
  • It is important to remove any excess moisture from carrot and zucchini after grating. Otherwise the bread will turn out too moist.
  • Do not over-mix the batter, otherwise the bread will out tough.
  • You can also add chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans.

Podi Podicha Pulinkari

Pulinkari is a tamarind based gravy made with coconut, tamarind and vegetables like pumpkin, ashgourd, ladies finger(okra), raw plantain etc. Podi podicha pulinkari is a Palakkad speciality and is a variation of the regular pulinkari. This pulinkari is made without coconut made using lightly sweet vegetables like pumpkin, jackfruit or ashgourd.

This pulinkari is an almost forgotten recipe and was shared my neighbor back in India. What's special about this dish is the freshly roasted and ground raw rice, chillies and fenugreek, which adds a unique taste. Since it has no coconut or lentils, it pairs well with rice and any thoran/poriyal or usili. It goes well with dosa and chapathi too. 


{ Pumpkin cooked in a tamarind sauce with freshly ground spices }
Serves 3


2 cup pumpkin cubes
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp tamarind paste / lemon-sized tamarind
1 tsp grated jaggery
Salt to taste

To roast & grind:
1 ½ tbsp raw rice
3-4 dry red chillies
½ tsp fenugreek seeds / vendhayam

To temper:
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves


1. Dry roast the raw rice. Once it starts to turn brown, add red chillies and fenugreek seeds. Roast till rice turns golden brown. Cool and grind to a fine powder.

2. Soak the tamarind in 1 cup warm water and extract the pulp. Add ½ cup water to the extract.

3. In a vessel add the pumpkin cubes, turmeric powder and ½ cup water. Cook the pumpkin uncovered until its half cooked.

4. Now add the tamarind extract and salt. Bring to boil and cook over medium flame until raw smell of tamarind goes.

5. Mix the ground powder with 1 cup water. Add this along with jaggery to the gravy and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the gravy has slightly thickened.

6. In a small pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles add curry leaves and pour over the gravy.

Serving Suggestion ~ Rice and thoran/poriyal/usili.

Notes and Tips
  • The pulinkari thickens as it sits so add water accordingly. The consistency should be lightly thick.
  • Adjust the amount of red chillies according to your spice preference. 

Butter Beans Kurma

Butter beans is a good source of protein, fiber, iron and vitamin and regular intake is good for vegetarians. As it is low calorie legume, including butter beans in our diet helps control hunger and maintaining a healthy weight. Butter beans can be used to make sundal or poriyal, add in curries or pulao and soups. Today I'm sharing an easy South Indian style kurma with butter beans.

Kurma is one our favorite side dish for roti/chapathi. Butter beans have a creamy texture which goes well with the onion, tomato and coconut gravy. I have used canned ones since I couldn't find fresh or dried beans here. This kurma goes well with chapathi, poori, rice and even with dosa and mild pulaos. Try this butter beans kurma and let me know how you like it. Also check out my chickpeas kurma.


{ Butter beans cooked in a onion-tomato, coconut and spices gravy  }
Yields 24 square pieces


1 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 large onion, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sambar powder
1 ½ cup cooked butter beans
Salt to taste

To grind:
⅓ cup grated coconut
1 tsp roasted gram / pottukadalai
½ tsp fennel seeds / sombu
3-4 green chillies
2 garlic cloves
½ inch ginger piece


1. Grind coconut, roasted gram, fennel seeds, green chillies, garlic and ginger to a smooth paste adding little water.

2. In a pressure cooker, heat oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add curry leaves and onion. Fry the onion till soft and translucent.

3. Then add the tomatoes and fry till they become mushy. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder and fry for a minute.

4. Now add the ground paste and saute for 5-6 minutes or until the masala has cooked and raw smell is gone.

5. Add 1 ½ water, butter beans, salt and mix well. Pressure cook for 1 whistle in medium flame.

Serving Suggestion ~ Roti/chapathi or rice.

Notes and Tips
  • I have used canned butter beans, you can also use fresh or dried ones. If using dried ones, soak them overnight.
  • You can add ¾ tsp coriander powder and ½ tsp red chilly powder instead of sambar powder.
  • Adjust the amount  of green chillies according to your spice preference.
  • You can also cook this in a kadai. Instead of pressure cooking for 1 whistle, simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Rava Pongal | Sooji Pongal

Ven pongal is a popular South Indian breakfast dish made with rice and moong dal. This rava pongal is a variation of my ven pongal recipe, made with roasted semolina and moong dal. It is quite healthy and makes a hearty and delicious breakfast. Rava pongal can be served with a simple coconut chutney, sambar or gothsu.

If you like rava upma, then you will definitely like this pongal. The spices tempered in ghee adds a nice flavor to the pongal, so don't skip it. But if you are calorie conscious, you can use oil and it tastes equally good. Pongal is coming up next week, so try this easy rava pongal for breakfast on one of the four days. We enjoyed this rava pongal with coconut chutney.


{ Semolina and lentil dish with pepper, cumin and ginger }
Serves 3-4


1 cup rava / semolina
½ cup paasi paruppu / yellow moong dal
Salt to taste

To temper:
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera
1 tbsp cashewnuts, broken
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp grated ginger


1. Dry roast moong dal for 3-4 minutes. Wash the dal 2-3 times and add 1 cup water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles.

2. Add 1 tsp ghee in kadai and fry the rava until nice aroma comes and turns to light golden color. Set aside.

3. In the same kadai add remaining ghee and add whole black pepper. When pepper starts to pop, add cashewnuts and fry until golden.

4. Then add jeera, curry leaves, ginger and fry few seconds. Add 3 cups of water, salt and bring to boil.

5. Once it comes to rolling boil, reduce the heat to low and gradually add rava and mix well. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until rava is completely cooked.

6. Add the cooked moong dal and combine everything. Cook for 1-2 minutes and remove from heat.

Serving Suggestion ~ Coconut chutney, sambar or gothsu.

Notes and Tips
  • For a low calorie pongal, you can either make it with half ghee and half oil or just with oil alone.
  • You can also add finely chopped green chillies for some spice.
  • The moong dal should not become too mushy. It should be cooked until soft.

Potato Podimas | Urulaikizhangu Podimas

Urulaikizhangu / potato podimas is a South Indian dish made with simple ingredients like potatoes, green chillies, ginger and tempered with spices. It's a quick, healthy and mildly spiced dish, and we mostly serve it with plain rice and sambar, rasam or vatha kuzmabu. This brahmin style podimas does not contain onion or garlic, making it apt to make on vrat / fasting or festival days. 

This potato podimas can be prepared in a very short time. And if you have boiled potatoes in hand, then you can make this in 10 minutes. I recommend using coconut oil for this dish as it lends a beautiful flavor. You can also serve this as a side dish to chapathi, poori, dal-chawal or variety rice. Let's see how to make to this easy yet delicious podimas.


{ Mildly spiced crumbled potatoes with ginger, green chillies and lemon }
Serves 3


3 medium potato
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
¾ tsp split urad dal
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 sprig curry leaves
1 inch ginger piece, grated
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice


1. Pressure cook the potatoes for 3 whistles. Peel the skin and lightly crumble them with hands.

2. Heat a pan with oil and add mustard seeds. When it splutters, add urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves, turmeric powder, ginger and green chillies.

3. Fry for a minute and add the crumbled potatoes, salt and gently combine everything. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.

Serving Suggestion ~ Rice and sambar / rasam

Notes and Tips
  • Do not mash the potatoes completely. Crumble them roughly with hands while its warm to handle.
  • Adjust the amount of green chillies according to your spice preference.

Kerala Paal Payasam

Happy New Year wishes to my friends and readers. Let this 2015 bring you all loads of joy, prosperity and good health. Hope all of you are having a wonderful new year celebrations with your loved ones and enjoying some good food too. Let me begin this year's blog post on a sweet note.

Paal payasam or rice kheer is a traditional sweet made during festivals and special occasions. This Kerala style paal payasam is quite similar to our regular paal payasam. but is made with chemba pachari or unakkalari (refer the pic below). Traditionally the payasam is made in uruli, a heavy round vessel, but you can also make in pressure cooker or a deep-bottomed vessel. Enjoy this paal payasam warm or cold.


{ Kerala style sweet pudding with rice and milk }
Serves 3-4


¼ cup chemba pachari / unakkalari
1 litre boiled milk
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp cardamom powder


1. Wash the rice and soak for 10 minutes. Pressure cook the rice with ¼ cup water and ¾ cup milk for 4-5 whistles.

2. Once the pressure subsides, open and transfer the contents to a deep-bottomed vessel. Mash the rice lightly and add remaining milk and sugar.

3. Mix well and boil on medium heat till it thickens and reduces to half, stirring in between. Add cardamom powder and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Notes and Tips
  • You can keep a small steel plate inside the pressure cooker to avoid the milk boiling over and spilling.
  • Adjust the quantity of sugar according to your taste preference.
  • The payasam will thicken as it sits. Add little warm milk if payasam turns too thick while serving.
  • I have not used cashew and raisins as they are not added in the traditional recipe.