South Indian Celery Recipe – Poriyal

    When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2010, my dietitian recommended eating celery and cucumbers with hummus. I have tasted cucumber before but celery was alien to me. I don’t remember seeing celery in my mother’s kitchen.

    Celery Poriyal 2


    When I tasted it for the first time, it’s fibrous texture reminded me of banana stem (vazhathandu). During my post pregnancy weightloss, I followed South Beach Diet (but with Indian inspired recipes), I have made a lot of recipes with ingredients that were local to me like kale, quinoa, celery, jicama, zucchini & its blossoms etc. It is key to eat what is local and in season. I pick all my veggies and fruits from farmer’s market. Celery is available almost all summer and end of Oct to Jan. I got bored eating it with a dip. I slowly started adding it to my soups and moved up to sambar, kootu and poriyal. If you are someone who counts calories in your food, then you must know that one stalk of celery has only 6 calories. I was asked to include celery in my diet as a healthy snack by doctors and dieticians. Don’t explore too much and rely on celery for your weightloss transformation. But they are definitely better than a candy bar or potato chips.

    I have been following Rujuta Diwekar​’s work and I love her philosophy towards eating. She promotes eating local and seasonal food. The best thing about living in Bay Area California (apart from the awesome weather 🙂 is the access to freshest ingredients at the farmer’s market. I try to create recipes with the vegetables in season. Celery is one such ingredient I love to cook as I got bored eating it raw with hummus.

    Celery Poriyal 1
    Today I am sharing the recipe for a South Indian stir fry called poriyal. We will be using the entire celery bunch for it. The dish is flavored with coconut oil, dry red chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves and coconut.

    Celery Poriyal 3

    Serves: 8 people


    • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 3 dry red chillies
    • 1 tablespoon urad dhal (white lentils)
    • 10 curry leaves (optional)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 1 whole bunch celery, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/8 cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
    • Salt to taste

    Cooking Directions

    For kadai /cooking pan method:

    1. Rinse and clean the celery stalk well. Chop them into tiny pieces and set aside.
    2. Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then throw in the red chillies, urad dahl and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
    3. Add the onions, little salt and turmeric powder and saute for 5-8 minutes. Finally add the celery and water. Cook covered for 15 minutes for crunchy poriyal or 20 minutes for softer version.
    4. Add coconut, salt to taste and mix well to combine. Serve hot with rice, sambar or rasam.

    For Pressure Cooker Method:

    1. Heat oil in a cooked base. Once hot, add mustard seeds and let it pop. Then throw in the red chillies, urad dahl and curry leaves. Saute for a minute.
    2. Add the onions, little salt, turmeric powder, celery, dry coconut and water. Mix well and cook for 1 whistle for crunchy poriyal or 2 whistles for softer version. Please manually release the pressure to prevent over cooking.
    3. Add salt to taste and serve hot.

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