This dish is a family specialty. A Keerai Kadaiyal is usually made with mashed greens tempered with mustard, red chillies, and asafoetida fried in oil. I feel that it takes away the flavour of the greens compared to this recipe. The onion, garlic, and green chillies boiled with the greens not only bring out the flavour of the greens but also enhance the taste of the kadaiyal. It is always served with fish curries like Live Viraal Meen Kuzhambu, Ayirai Meen Kuzhambu, and Unripe Mango and Katla Curry.
Kadaiyal refers to the process of mashing cooked vegetables. In Tamil Nadu, before the advent of the mixie/blender in kitchens, greens were cooked and then mashed using a mathu (wooden pestle). My mother used to cook the greens in a wide-mouthed vessel. After cooling she would place it on a pirimanai (ring-shaped bamboo and coconut fibre platform) and use the mathu to mash the greens. I am sure women are still following this method in the villages. Of course, in my urban kitchen I blend the greens using a mixie in just 5 seconds J
Amaranth leaves are low in protein and energy but are a very rich source of calcium (800mg per 100g), Iron (23mg per 100g), and carotene (3,500µg per 100g). This preparation does not use any oil. Therefore this is a very low calorie dish that is rich in antioxidants and minerals. This is a very nice way of introducing greens to small children and tactful way of including it in the diet of geriatrics.
- 2 bundles Mulai Keerai (Amaranth Leaves)
- 10 Sambar Onions (Shallots)
- 6 medium Garlic Cloves
- 2 large Green Chillies, deseeded
- 1 ½ tsp Salt
- 1 ½ C Water
- Remove the amaranth leaves from the stems and wash them thoroughly. Drain in a colander.
- Boil the water with salt, shallots, garlic, and green chillies. Add the amaranth leaves.
- Stir so that the leaves get mixed with the water. Simmer till the greens are cooked.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Blend in a mixie or blender for 5 seconds at speed 1.
- While washing amaranth leaves, turn the leaves over in a large amount of water so that earth and grit sticking to the leaves will sink to the bottom. Do not drain the water. Instead, pick up the leaves with your hands and place in a colander. If you drain the vessel, the grit and sand will remain with the leaves.