Palak Keerai Kootu| Simple South Indian Spinach & Lentil Curry, Our Way

Both the OH and I love our greens. Me, since adulthood, and the OH since childhood. Thankfully, we have never had to be force-fed greens, and have had them willingly. I am trying to get Bubboo to love her greens, too, a goal towards which I am constantly working by trying to come up with recipes that use greens in all sorts of ways.

The recipe I am going to tell you about today, though, is ages old for us. It has been the way spinach aka palak keerai has always been cooked in our family, a very simple recipe that I turn to when I don’t have much time or inclination to stand at the stove for ages. Unlike a whole lot of other South Indian households, we don’t use a lot of coconut. For this kootu too, we skip coconut (while many others cannot fathom of a kootu without coconut), and keep it very, very simple. The end result, however, is quite flavourful and homely.

This kootu is packed with nutrition, and makes for a great accompaniment with rice as well as rotis. Since we make it in a pressure cooker, it gets done in a jiffy, too.


Here’s how we make the kootu.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

A big bowl of chopped, fresh spinach leaves (thoroughly washed in running water, all traces of mud removed, and chopped finely)

Salt, to taste

1 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon jeera (cumin)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

A pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

2-3 dry red chillies, each broken into two

2 fistfuls of moong dal (washed well in running water and with all the excess water drained out)


  1. Heat the oil in a 2- or 3-litre pressure cooker and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Now, add the asafoetida and the cumin seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
  2. Now, add the chopped spinach leaves and the broken dry, red chillies. On a high flame, saute for about a minute.
  3. Add the drained moong dal, salt to taste, red chilli powder and turmeric powder, along with about a glass of water. Mix well.
  4. Close the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 4-5 whistles on a high flame, or cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Switch off the gas and let the pressure come down naturally.
  6. On opening the cooker, if you feel the kootu is too thick, add a bit more water and let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Adjust seasonings, in that case. Otherwise, the kootu is ready to be served with rice or rotis.


  1. If you want to use coconut, add a fistful of fresh, grated coconut to the pressure cooker while you are adding the moong dal. We like the kootu made that way, too.
  2. You can use other greens – like methi or kasi soppu – instead of palak, too, to make a similar kootu.



2 thoughts on “Palak Keerai Kootu| Simple South Indian Spinach & Lentil Curry, Our Way

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