September 07, 2023

Keerai (greens) Kootu - vegan south Indian accompaniment

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 Keerai is the Tamil name for Green Leafy vegetables in general . Spinach is known as palak keerai , fenugreek is known as Vendhiya Keerai , Amaranthus is known as Arai Keerai , Dill Leaves is known as Soi Keerai ,Drumstick leaves as Murunga keerai so on and so forth.

We all know how healthy and beneficial is the inclusion of greens in our daily diet . So pls do make it a point to include greens as a part of diet atleast once or twice a week  . Of course please exercise caution and consult your Doctor if greens need to be  avoided due to underlying medical conditions.

I am very fond of keerai sambar, keerai masiyal and keerai kootu in south indian cuisine whereas in North Indian cuisine my favorites are Dal Palak,Palak Paneer , Methi theplas, Palak Paratha which feature frequently on our meals regularly. 

Keerai kootu has been my childhood favorite and I would eat this almost everyday as a little girl . The mild sweetness from the cooked moong dal blends well with the coconut jeera paste and cooked palak and the final tempering of mustard in coconut oil simply elevates the flavor profile of the kootu.  You can pair it with some delicious sambar rice or mix this kootu with some steamed rice and ghee and enjoy as is.   You can use any variety of keerai for this kootu,but I personally love palak.  I don't like Methi in kootu as it imparts a slightly bitter taste to the kootu which puts me off.

The green Leafy vegetables need to be cleaned very well before using.  There may be a chance of lot of weeds or some rotten leaves hidden in the bunch . I am sharing a detailed video on how to clean the green Leafy vegetables at ease.  If the stems are tender,I chop them finely and use it too while making the kootu.

If you are a lover of exotic greens, then Baby Bokchoy and Shitaake stir fry by Preethi will be the best choice.  I was paired with Preethi for August's Theme of Leafy Greens theme suggested by Seema of Mildly Indian.

Preparation Time - 15 mins
Cooking Time - 20 mins
Complexity - easy
Serves - 2 to 3 


2 small bunch spinach/palak 
1.5 cup cooked moong dhall
1/4 cup grated coconut 
1tsp jeera
1/2 tsp pepper
2 to 3 dry red chillies / 1 tsp red chilli powder 
2 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds 
1/2 tsp udad dhall
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt as needed 


  • Clean and wash the spinach  bunch well . Finely chop the palak and cook it well . No need to pressure cook .you can cook it in regular open pot until the raw flavor is lost. Use a heavy bottomed pan always.
  • Grind the coconut, jeera ,pepper, red chillies to a fine paste with sufficient water.
  • Once the palak is cooked, add this coconut paste,bring it to a rolling boil and then add the cooked moong dhall .
  • Ensure the cooking is on medium flame and you are stirring constantly to avoid burning . Moong dhall and coconut paste will stick to the pan very quickly.
  • Once the kootu reaches a rolling boil,turn off and prepare a tempering of mustard, udad dhall and asafoetida in coconut oil and pour it over the kootu . Relish the kootu with rice and papads. 


  1. Interesting how different states of India have different ways of cooking palak and moong dal. Gujaratis make a simple sabji using both. I like this keerai kootu you've made. Book marking this recipe to try out something different in my kitchen.

  2. This is a staple in our house. Nutritious and easy to prepare, Keerai Kootu tastes so lovely with hot rice. Lovely detailed recipe, Priya!

  3. Thanks Priya now I know what to make with the package of palak in my vegetable basket. I wanted to make a mild curry and now tomorrow we will enjoy this palak kootu with our rotis and rice.

  4. The comfort of keerai kootu is indescribable with rice and some papad. We will love to make this as our sunday meal.

  5. Interesting way of making this kootu. We make it completely different and never used coconut in it.

  6. Interesting way of making this kootu. Never tried with coconut, would love to make this

  7. We love keerai kootu and almost once a week, we make it. Will be so good to eat with hot rice and ghee. Your pictues are tempting

  8. Keerai kootu is one of my favourite, your kootu looks very inviting. I love to have it with hot hot bhakri/jowar rotis😋

  9. Keerai Kootu seems so tasty with hot rice. Lovely detailed recipe..... Interesting way of making it here !

  10. Keerai Kootu looks good and ideal to serve with hot steamed rice. Bookmarked your recipe to make it soon.

  11. Keerai Kootu with freshly ground masala is so delicious and comforting. I love your recipe. I can’t wait to make it soon. Just need some hot rice , pickle and sandige to polish it off . - Preethi


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