Keerai Mozhagoottal is an authentic South Indian gravy, right from the lap of traditional Iyer cuisine. ‘Keerai’ as most of you would know, is Tamil for ‘Greens’ (‘Soppu’ in Kannada). ‘Mozhagu’ is Tamil for ‘Pepper’ and ‘Mozhagoottal’ is pepper-koottu when literally translated. My Mozhagoottal may look more like Sambar, but don’t be fooled, no its not Sambar (It’s my camera, and for once, I’m not happy with it 😦 ). Keerai mozhagoottal has more of a greenish tinge unlike the orange-reddish tinge which sambars have. That should give you an idea of how selectively colour blind my camera suddenly got 😦 Maybe it was the lighting…Im not sure; whatever it is, Im gravely disappointed with my shot. Nonetheless, Im shamefacedly putting it up. Alright, no more claptrap…Im moving straight onto the recipe.
- Any greens – 2 nos, thick bunches (I used Thandu keerai/Dantina Soppu; sorry I’m not sure about the English name here, but you can pretty much use any greens)
- Tur Dal – 1/2 paav or 1 cup (Pressure cooked till softly done)
- Rasam powder – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves – a sprig, finely chopped
- Jeera – 2 tbsps
- Black Peppercorns – 1 tbsp (alter to suit your taste)
- Freshly grated Coconut – 1/2 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Cooking Oil – 1 tsp
- Water – as required
For the tempering:
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Urad dal – 1 tsp
- Red Chillies – 2 nos
- Asafoetida – 1 generous pinch
- Coconut Oil/Ghee – 2 tsps (The authentic version uses Coconut oil. However, I use ghee because the hubby goes ballistic if he hears ‘Coconut Oil’ anywhere near the kitchen!)
- Wash the greens thoroughly and chop finely once you are assured there are no more fine sand particles clinging to the leaves.
- In a wok, heat the cooking oil. Add the finely chopped greens and saute for 3-5 minutes till the greens soften a bit. Add 2 cups water and allow the greens to cook till softly done.
- Add the curry leaves, rasam powder and salt. Let Cook on a low-medium flame for about 10 minutes, till the greens absorb the spices from the rasam powder, and also the salt.
- Add the cooked dal and allow to boil for another 10 minutes till the greens and dal are well incorporated together.
- In the meanwhile, grind together the freshly grated coconut, jeera and black peppercorns with adequate water, to form a smooth paste.
- Add the paste to the greens-dal mixture and let boil another 5-10 minutes till the raw smell of coconut disappears. You will know the mozhagoottal is done when you see a frothy surface on the top. Remove from flame.
- Prepare a tempering with the ingredients given and pour onto the mozhagoottal. Stir well.
- Serve hot with piping hot rice and enjoy the darts of fiery pepper that engulf you! Some tangy-sweet Maangai (raw mango) pachadi goes best with the rice and mozhagoottal. I usually make the Maangai pachadi a lot during summers, when raw mangoes are available in plenty, so I’ll surely post it soon.