"A favorite dish, where the greens are steamed, and mashed, with light seasoning of salt, red chillis and cumin. It is called keerai masial (கீரை மசியல்)." - Wikipedia
This is another comfort food from the basic Indian cooking. The greens are indispensable in a well balanced Indian menu and much praised for the health benefits.
In Chennai I used to blend the keerai, using a small rough clay vessel and a wooden pestle ( In Tamil - keerai kadaiyum mann pathiramum , mathum). That traditional clay vessel imparts an earthen flavor to the simple keerai and would lift up our spirits:)
Generally the arai keerai and siru keerai (smaller leaved amaranth) are good for this blending recipe.As I could not find them here, I have used the amaranth (thandan keerai). This recipe calls for total simplicity , so we can't see any tomato, turmeric or oil. Adding oil, tomato or tamarind also holds good, but this one is my most favorite recipe. In my native place we used to add a pinch of lime (calcium oxide / sunnambu , additive to pan leaves) along with this masiyal. I don't know the correct purpose of it. But they say the 'sunnambu' helps in absorption of some vitamins in the greens. That's totally optional.
Greens (spinach / amaranth) - 1 lb (4 handful)
water - 1/4 cup
shallot - 4
green chilly - 2
garlic - 4 pearls
cumin seed - 1/4 tsp
salt - to taste (very little only)
Lime (sunnambu) - a very small pinch (optional)
Pluck the leaves and young stems only. Discard the hard stems or reserve them for making sambar. Wash and clean the leaves well.
Take a wok and bring to boil 1/4 cup water. Remove the skin of shallot and garlic. Add them to the boiling water along with the chillies. After a minute (the onion and garlic should be half cooked), add the cleaned greens and cook them without closing the lid. Some people believe that cooking the greens with lids will spoil the nutrients.
After a few minutes, gently turn the whole lot and cook the other side too.
Check the stems if they are cooked. Wait till all the moisture is gone and put off fire.
Let it cool completely. Now add cumin, salt and blend in a mixer to a coarse paste.
(Just two or three pulse is enough).
If you want an authentic flavor try to use an earthenware to blend the greens.
Serve as side dish with rice or as a curry over rice.
We generally prepare this masiyal along with fish curry and rice.
In my native place , they add a pinch of lime (calcium oxide , that we use along with pan leaves)while blending to get some medicinal value out of it. Its purely optional here.
No tadka / tempering is necessary.
Some folklore from my native place (arai keerai / small amaranth):
This masiyal can be prepared with black pepper instead of green chillies and consumed daily to reduce the obesity.
This masiyal without any tadka helps people to regain strength after some disease and also as a natural bowel healer.