Monday, May 6, 2013

Keerai Rasam + Poriyal

Soppu-Soppu Rasa / Soppin Rasa in Kannada

Prep time: 15 min                            Cooking time: 6-7 min                           Serves : 4

Greens are very versatile ingredients. You can fashion them into most South Indian staple dishes like sambar, masiyal, koottu, poriyal, etc. And they are also easy to incorporate into vadas and pakodas (fritters). Nowadays, greens soups, puris, variety rices have also become commonplace in most health-conscious households. Moreover, they cook very fast and are extremely handy in quick fix situations.

 OK, cleaning them does take a little time and they have to be made while fresh. But that's ok. No pains, no gains, right? Well, we had a fun time as kids sitting with mom and helping her clean greens.. It was almost a regular Saturday mid-morning together activity. And we have also grown up watching mom using the cast-away portions (and other vegetable peels too of everyday's kitchen waste) to make compost to be used in the small kitchen garden... Even if you're very busy, you could do the cleaning the previous day night, put the required portion into a plastic bag (do not close it tightly, especially if the greens are wet) and use in the morning.

While I remember seeing my friends at school and college bringing other keerai dishes, I found that within our circle, keerai rasam was an exclusive in our household. So, I thought it a good idea to share it with you. Along with rice, the keerai rasam - poriyal combo makes a satisfying tasty meal loaded with nutrients.

 You can use any variety of greens among arai keerai, mulai keerai, murungai keerai, agathi keerai, ponnaanganni keerai or manathakkaali keerai. The best option that I like for this recipe is murungai keerai (drumstick leaves, called sahjan ped ke paththe in hindi). I have made it using mulai keerai (amaranth greens) this time. So, here's the recipe:


Greens - 1 thick bunch, cleaned
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Tamarind - a lemon sized ball

To roast and grind:
Chana dal -1tsp
Coriander seeds - 11/2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Red chillies - 4-5 depending on taste

To grind along:
Pearl onions (ulli/ chinna vengayam) - 4-5 medium sized
Tomato - 1 small

To temper the rasam:
Onion - 1/2, sliced
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - one sprig
Red chilly - 1
Oil- 1 tsp

For the poriyal:
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chilly - 1
Onion - 1/2, sliced
Oil - 1 tbsp
Coconut shavings - 2 tbsp


Break the strands of the cleaned greens into roughly 2 inch-long pieces. (Believe me, it tastes much better than when u chop them) If using drumstick leaves or agathi keerai, separate and use just the leaves. Boil 4-5 cups of water in a wide-mouthed vessel. Add the toor dal and cook till the dal is almost well cooked (when the lighter coloured circle that begins to form inside each dal reaches almost the edge of the dal. Alternatively, u can use pressure cooked dal, cooked to the same level, say 4 whistles). Add salt and the prepared greens, mix well and let boil till greens become soft.

Meanwhile, put the tamarind to soak in a cup of water. Roast the ingredients given under "to roast and grind" in 1 tsp oil, adding one after the other in the same order (since chana dal take time to roast whereas red chilly needs just a couple of seconds). Cool the mixture and grind into a semi-fine paste. Then add the peeled pearl onions and tomato and just pulse till it becomes a coarse paste.Extract the juice of the tamarind into a big bowl and mix in the ground paste.

Once the dal+greens are done, drain them using a colander and retain the water. Once this water cools, add it to the tamarind-paste mixture and mix well.

Tempering the rasam:

Heat 1 tsp oil in a thick bottomed vessel and add mustard seeds and urad dal. after mustard crackles, add the curry leaves and sliced onion and saute for 1 minute. Break the red chilly into two and add. Now, add the prepared liquid (tamarind + ground paste + dal and greens-boiled water). Add salt and mix just once. Let it cook in medium heat until froth begins to appear and collect on the top. It  tastes best if you don't let it boil.

Keerai poriyal:

 Heat 1 tbsp oil in kadai/pan and do the same tempering as done for rasam. Add salt and mix. Then add the drained dal-greens mixture and mix well. After 2 minutes (of intermittent mixing), add the coconut shavings and mix evenly. Switch off flame after a minute and transfer to a bowl.

Serve the rasam and poriyal along with hot, cooked rice and enjoy!

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