Last night I slept late in the night after watching bits of two movies. I was curious about the end of the horror movie but watching horror movies sometimes makes me queasy so I missed all the important scenes by switching over a French comedy on ‘World movies’. In the end I did not understand head or tail of both movies and ended up going to bed late.
I was fast asleep at eight this morning when the phone rang and my BIL asked whether I would like some fresh greens from the farm nearby. He knows I love greens and generally picks up a bunch of amaranth leaves or spinach leaves on his morning walks near the field. I prefer making spinach on weekends as it takes time to pick, wash and clean the leaves. After some time he greeted me with a beautiful green bouquet of spinach leaves.
I do not know whether there is an appropriate equivalent term in Western cooking for masiyal, but it is a form of cooking that is very popular in Indian cuisine. It is an act that consists of pressing out the cooked vegetable to extrude its juices to a certain extent while retaining a rough texture. Traditionally we use a ‘kadchi’, ‘kadayal’ or ‘mathna’ for this act. Since the handle of mine broke long back, I have been using a ‘pav bhaji masher’ instead. I find that it is more convenient. If using a grinder, you have to be very careful giving the cooked spinach a half-turn so that it doesn’t blend into a pulp. Just remember that masiyal has to be as grainy as a ‘hand made’ pesto. The texture makes all the difference to the taste.
Traditionally amaranth leaves (chowli) are used for masiyal but spinach makes an equally tasty substitute.
Dish: Keerai Masiyal | Spinach stew, Iyer style
Yield: Serves 4
Category: Inherently vegan dish from Palakkad Iyer cuisine
5 cups – Picked, washed and finely chopped amaranth leaves or spinach
1/2 cup – Water to cook the greens
Salt – To taste
1/4 tsp. – Turmeric powder
A tbsp. of coconut oil
Split black gram – 1.5 tsp.
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp.
Dry red chillies (if long then break into small bits) – 2
Cut the spinach into thin strips and cook with salt and turmeric powder, without covering till well-done in a pan. Now use a masher to mash the spinach till the juices exude and the rough texture remains as for a basil pesto. Set aside.
Heat oil. Splutter mustard seeds, add gram dal and fry with the red chillies till the dal changes into a shade of pink.
Pour the seasoning over the cooked spinach. Stir well and serve as a side dish with rice and rasam. I like it just mixed with rice or even with pasta! I could have a bowl of this without anything to go with it.
Optionally you could also add a few garlic cloves or chopped garlic to the seasoning and let that brown before pouring into the greens.