Keerai Therakkal

Green leafy vegetables are generally a good source of Iron and Calcium. There are numerous varieties of Keerai available in India. In the Indian culture we have recognised medicinal values in each of the varieties, and have used it accordingly. My grandmother would say that if we consume greens regularly for 48 days, the internal system is taken care of. The only chore is to pick and clean them. It is well worth the effort, and may be done the previous evening. Pick the Keerai and pack it well in paper bags.
Pic from Kamala's CornerThere are two types in this particular variety of Keerai - The Naatu Ponnanganni (local) and the Seemai Ponnanganni (Foreign). Its Sanskrit name is "Matsyakshi"; so called because the flowers look like the eyes of a Fish! (Wiki). Ponnanganni (Alternanthera Sessilis) is an excellent coolant. It neutralizes excessive acidity in the body. It helps keep away bad breath. It is useful in treating skin conditions like scabies, eczema etc and improves the skin tone and texture. It is an excellent herb for hair growth. (Source)

Ponnanganni - "Pon aum kaan nee"  பொன்+ஆம்+காண்+நீ - the name states the benefits of this keerai. If taken regularly the body will glow like gold. It is also beneficial for the eye-sight. Need we say anything more?

Ponnanganni Keerai - 1 bunch
Onion - 1, sliced thinly
Oil - 1.5 tablespoon
Milk - 1/4 cup

Masala Paste:
Sombhu - 1 teaspoon
Khus Khus - 1 teaspoon
Cashew nuts - 6
Dry Red Chillies - 5 to 6
Apple Tomato - 1
Country Tomato - 1
Coconut - 1/3 cup, grated

Pick, wash and drain the Keerai. It should measure about 2 to 2.5 cups, packed.
Grind coconut, sombhu, tomatoes, chilli, khus khus and cashews together to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a pressure cooker.
Tip in onions and stir fry till it turns pink.
Then, add the ground masala paste and cook till the raw smell disappears. Cook over a low flame stirring continuously.
Add in the Keerai, and saute until well mixed.
Pour in a cup of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the greens are cooked and the gravy is thick.
Mix in the milk and serve hot.
Best served with Idli, ideally for Breakfast. ;-)

The country variety of Tomato (looks very much like the Heirloom Tomatoes) is slightly sour in taste.
If you cannot get it, add some tamarind. Or, squeeze in a little lemon juice just before serving.
Other Keerai recipes from Ch Fiesta.

Here is a novel recipe to try with Murungai Keerai!

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