Keerai Kootu (Spinach and Split Moong Bean stew) – Virudunagar Restaurant Style

I have been on a eating marathon for the last three days. It all started with a dinner on Friday. We went to a Chinese restaurant near my house and I ate lamb, chicken and beans dishes and thank fully skipped the rice. They were so yummy and it’s my second visit within two weeks. I am sure the dishes would have been made with fish, oyster and other Asian sauces that has good amount of sugar in it. I pledged to myself to workout on Saturday but things didn’t turn out as planned. My husband got started with his weekend classes in Berkeley and it was just Sid and myself at home. So you can imagine my schedule with a toddler in hand.  I was brave enough to start my workout but my son climbed on my back when I was doing power yoga (Tony Horton Power 90 workout). To avoid hurting both of us, I stopped and all we did was playing, snacking, coloring and watching Curious George.

October 7 is my husband’s birthday. On Saturday evening,  I organized a birthday dinner and  invited his close friend and their family. The menu was simple but was dumped with tons of calories. I simmered cauliflower puree with heavy cream and few exotic Indian spices and made a soup out of it. Then there was this raw cauliflower salad which nobody relished and I ended up eating it the following day. I made mutton biryani following my mother-in-law’s recipe. You must check that recipe if you want  to make fluffy, extremely delicious biryani for your family/ friends / guests. For dessert it was Shyam’s favorite creme brulee with mango puree. I made a really huge batch of that brullee. Yes, I ate them all. That summons my DAY-2  of over eating.

On the day of his birthday, we had tons of leftovers. I was enthusiastic about baking chocolate souffle. I got the inspiration from my fellow blogger Nami’s post. She made it sound very easy and do-able. Thanks to her for that. After exchanging few emails I finally baked my first batch of chocolate souffle and they turned out pretty yum. Thanks Nami for the tips and tricks. Sunday was filled with eating biryani, brulee and souffle and we repeated the same thing for dinner. Again DAY-3 of over-over eating. Gosh! I feel so terrible now.
To prevent any excess pound make its way to my body, I am back to South beach diet phase 1 for the next couple of weeks. I made a batch of delicious spinach- split moong bean stew and ivy gourd stir fry. Mung bean also called green gram in India is different from split moong bean. To start with, whole mung bean is green in colour while the split ones are yellow in colour. Green ones are short, oval and intact in shape while the yellow is split in half and are tiny short ones. Both are rich in protein and are ideal ingredient to cook during phase 1 of SBD.
This dish is called as “keerai kootu” in Tamil, my mother tongue. Kootu is a staple dish in every vegetarian South Indian home. That’s their source of protein for the day as it is made with boiled, mashed lentils/legumes/beans. They are either cooked with any vegetable or just simmered with onions and tomatoes and topped with tempered oil. For today’s kootu, I used finely chopped spinach, onions , garlic and tomatoes. I pre-cooked the split moong beans and mashed it to a fine puree. Once I tempered the oil with basic South India spices, I mixed in onions and tomatoes and few other spice powders and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Once they were cooked through, I folded in the mashed lentils until mixed well. Generally I use extra virgin olive oil but yesterday I used coconut oil. I love its nutty, tropical flavour. In the traditional recipe, coconut paste or coconut milk is added to kootu for extra richness and taste. Hence I used little coconut oil instead of the coconut milk.
Keerai Kootu is an easy recipe and I am sure you will fall in love with its taste and it can be eaten as soup/stew in Phase 1 of SBD. I ate mine for lunch today with lovakkai kari (ivy gourd/tindora stir fry) and cucumbers. Yummy hearty meal!


Source: My mom
Serves: 4-6 (3/4th cup serving size)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil + 1 tablespoon coconut oil for garnish (skip this final step if you are using olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillis – slit
  • 2 dry red chillies – cut in half
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 small red onion – chopped
  • 1 red tomato – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 cups baby spinach – finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup moong bean – cleaned and washed
  1. Pressure cook the moong bean with 4 cups of water for 5 whistles. Switch off the flame and let it cool down. If using a cooking pan, fill water and cook the beans for 45 minutes until it turns mushy. Once cooled, mash the bean into a fine puree. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil and once hot enough, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then add cumin seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and dry red chillies. Saute for a minute. Then add the garlic and mix into the tempered oil.
  3. Throw in the onions and tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle turmeric, chili and coriander powder. Saute for another 2 minutes.
  4. Cook on medium flame. Add the spinach and add 1/2 cup water and cook covered for 20 minutes.
  5. Lower the flame and fold in the moong bean puree and let it simmer for 5 minutes until the flavours mingle with each other. Switch off the flame. Add salt to taste. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Stir to combine and serve hot with rice/roti/ pita pockets or eat as such.
Additional notes
  1. An ideal entree for South beach phase 1 diet.
  2. Since it has tons of spinach and beans, its a nutritious food for toddlers/kids. I mix this South Indian kootu with whole wheat pasta for his lunch.
  3. This dish can also be eaten by those  in phase 2 and 3 of SBD. Serve hot with brown rice or roti.
  4. An healthy side for those who are diabetic/pre-diabetic and also for gestational diabetic women. She can eat even 2 cups per meal and feel so energetic and full without any spike in sugar level.

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  1. great …my hubby's birthday was yesterday 8 of October.made a Italian surprise dinner him.. really got surprised since we got back home a trip only in the afternoon

  2. I love this recipe — it's bursting with so much flavor! I remember eating this at my friends place for dinner a few years ago. Gotta make it soon 🙂

    Sounds like you all had a delicious birthday celebration!

  3. I just imagined you were doing yoga while your son was trying to play with you… lol. Raising a toddler is already a big work out! 🙂 Sounds like you had a wonderful feast over the weekend! Thank you for tagging me on the Instagram pictures of the souffle! I'm happy to hear it turned out well. Thanks for linking back to me and kind mention!

  4. I love anything with spinach in it and this looks so yummy. I'd love to try this version out with curry leaves, which again I'm in love with.

    Thank you so much for visiting me. You have a very practical food blog here with healthy recipes.

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