Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keerai Poriyal and a Royal Side Dish!

A couple of more simple side dishes for busy weeknights.:)

Keerai Poriyal:

First, we have keerai poriyal (spinach stir-fry). You can absolutely use frozen spinach if you're in a real rush, but nothing beats the taste of fresh! This is a very easy yet amazingly flavorful way of preparing spinach. The spinach is scented with garlic, onions, and infused with the smoky taste of fried red chillies. Definitely a winning combo!


Fresh spinach - 1 medium bunch, cleaned and cut into small pieces
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped finely
Salt to taste

For seasoning:

Red chillies - 5, or to taste, broken in half
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, torn in half (optional)


1. Heat oil in pan and do the seasoning. Add onions and fry for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add garlic and fry until garlic softens and onion is translucent.

3. Add cut spinach, squeezing well before adding to pan to make sure you're not adding excess water. Spinach has a tendency to let out a lot of water as it cooks, so make sure you've removed any water used in washing it before adding to pan! :)

4. Now, add salt and blast the heat as high as it will go on your stove! Stir frequently until the spinach has wilted and there is no liquid left in the pan.

Enjoy as a side dish with any rice, roti, sambar, rasam, etc. As my appayee (father's mother) used to say, make greens so that they retain their green color! Looks appetizing and they retain their vitamins. :)

Royal vegetable side dish:

This next one is based on a dish I saw on Sun TV's Unavum Aarogiyamum cooking series presented by chef Jacob. This dish was apparently made a very, very, very long time ago for royalty. But it tastes awesome for commoners like us, too! The combo he used was eggplants and 2 other root vegetables. I had tapioca (yucca) and potato on hand, so that's what I decided to use. It was soooo phenomenally good!

The taste was sort of nutty from the roasted dal flour and a bit spicy from black pepper. Black pepper is the only source of spice in this dish, so be sure to adjust accordingly! It is so comforting, especially with the cold weather!


Small eggplants - 8-10, cut into large dice
Tapioca/yucca/maravali kizhangu - 1/2 cup, cut into large dice
Potato - 1/2 cup, cut into large dice
Urad dal - 1 tbsp, dry roasted and powdered
Rice flour - 1 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coarse black pepper - 2 tbsp, or to taste

For seasoning:

Oil/ghee (Ghee is traditional, but feel free to use oil)
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs


1. Boil the potato and tapioca/yucca until cooked, but still retaining its shape. Strain and keep aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and do the seasoning. Add the eggplant and turmeric powder.

3. When this is 3/4 cooked, add the urad dal powder, rice flour, salt, taro root, and potatoes.

4. Fry, stirring constantly until the roasted smell of the dal comes out. Make sure you stir constantly, without breaking the vegetables, to make sure the powders don't stick on the bottom of the pan. I found a non stick pan verrrrry useful here!

5. Once everything has cooked and is nicely browned and crispy, add the coarse black pepper. Allow to heat through and turn off the heat.

This is also very versatile and can go with a variety of dishes (rice, rotis, pulav, sambar, rasam, etc). You can also substitute the eggplant with other vegetables that retain their shape well. Alternatively, the tapioca and/or potato can be subsituted with other root vegetables.


Dhivya said...

wow..i love to eat keerai poriyal especially sirukeerai...my mom used to cook this...nic pic and recipe kalai..thanks for sharing

Mythreyee said...

nice dish.

Lavanya Raj said...

kalai..both poriyal should have tasted good..i could read it from the images. iam going to try the royal vegetable side dish.

Kalai said...

Dhivya, glad this brought memories of your mom. I love keerai, too! :)

Mythreyee, thanks so much!

Lavanya, romba nalla irukkum. Try pannunga! :)

Cham said...

Keerai porial pict is ready to be blogged soon... But i will post it later.
Should try the next one.

Lisa said...

Love both of these recipes. You can never have too many quick but tasty side dish ideas for a busy week.

Kalai said...

Cham, looking forward to your keerai poriyal recipe! Do try the other one. :)

Lisa, thanks so much, girl. So true that you need quick go-to side dishes for weeknights! :)

Jayashree said...

Like the sound of the royal curry.

Bharathy said...

I make keerai poriyal using molai keerai..just the same recipe her except I dont add garlic and curry leaves!..:)I should try adding garlic next time..
Love the royal dish there too :)

Asha said...

Nothing beats fresh veggies, Keerai looks great and Royal veggies are cool too, great side dish!:))

Uma said...

Both Keerai and Royal veggies look yummy! Nice combination!

Maheswari said...

One of my fav. side dish to go with sambhar sadam..keerai poriyal...looks good...
Royal side dish..the name itself makes me wanna try...never used taro root in my life..does it taste like any other root veggies?

Kalai said...

Thanks, Jayashree! :)

Bharathy, try it with garlic. It's sooo good! :)

Ashakka, I totally agree fresh veggies are the best! :)

Uma, thanks so much.

Maheshwari, I love keerai poriyal, too! Sorry, I actually used tapioca (also called yucca or maravali kizhangu in tamil). Taro root is the hairy looking one, which Amma tells me is karunai kizhangu and does taste like other root veggies. :)

Laavanya said...

Keerai poriyal is the best and i add lots of onion too..
The tapioca curry looks very delicious. How yummy

Ramki said...

Hi Kalai,

I've blogged your Keerai Poriyal as a model recipe in the 1001 South Indian Curries cookbook at

/Thanks for the detailed recipe


ammu said...

Hi kalai.. Im new to cooking and ur kerai poriyal was of great help with my starters ;)... thank u so much...