Monday, 5 August 2013

Thandu Keerai / Keerai Thandu Porial - Amaranth Mature Stem Stir Fry

Thandu keerai poriyal

                  Walking towards the car on a busy road amidst heavy traffic, with a huge plant in my hand that looked like it was just recently uprooted, I didn't know I was drawing the attention of every passerby. A few young men even stopped to enquire what is that I was carrying in my hand. Not many know about this gigantic greens called Thandu Keerai , though it is commonly called Mulaikeerai (Amaranthus). 

                 If my better half happens to be at home when the lady who sells greens visits, the first thing he would enquire is, if she has thandu keerai and she would promptly show the small bunch of amaranth and he would lecture her about the actual thandu keerai, its size and colour. Most people are not aware of this keerai or have been told that the small bunch of amaranth is thandu keerai, though they are just young amaranthus, without the thick thandu/stem.

                     The regular amaranth ( mulaikeerai ) is left to grow to a height of about 4 1/2  to 5 feet,  especially during the month of Aadi for the festive season, when it is cooked along with lentils as spicy curry or as a stir fry. The tender stems taste like a vegetable and it will be hard to recognise unless told. 'Thandu' is the thick and broad stem of the mature plant and hence the acquired name 'Thandu Keerai'. The large leaves are cooked like regular greens as stir fries and the stem or the thandu is cooked like a vegetable. 

                   My mothers recipe of 'Thandu keerai kootu' made with these thandu/stem  and bengal gram is my better half's favourite. The following recipe by my MIL, which carries a nellai touch and tastes delicious with any spicy curry, happens to be my favourite. 

                       Thandu keerai will be commonly seen in all local vegetable markets starting from mid July to August every year. I happened to buy my latest bunch from aminjikarai vegetable market.

Keerai Thandu            2 cups
Plantain                     1 ( Vazhaikkai )
Brinjal                       1 cup ( White )
Turmeric Powder         1/2 tsp
Salt                          1 tsp

Blend the following ingredients without adding water
Grated Coconut     2 -3 tbsp
Green chilli            1 large
Cumin                 1/2 tsp
Shallots               4 - 5

Coconut oil                    1 tbsp
Mustard + urad dal         1 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves
Salt                              1/2 - 3/4 tsp

Chop keerai thandu, plantain and brinjal into small pieces of equal size.
Bring some water to a boil in a broad vessel just enough to cook the vegetables.
Add the cubed vegetables to the boiling water, turmeric powder and the salt and cook till the vegetables are tender. Drain the cooked veggies and set aside.
Heat coconut oil in a pan, add mustard + urad dal , curry leaves.
Add the cooked vegetables, stir to coat the oil.
Add the ground coconut mixture, salt and stir on low- med heat for about a minute at regular interval.
Serve with rice and spicy curry.

How to prepare the thandu/stem
Discard the hairy and hard root part and break the stems into manageable size.
Using a peeler, peel the skin like you would do to a banana stem ( vazhaithandu ).
Peel until you see no trace of the pink skin and you reach the tender green part of the stem.
It should be soft and easy to chop without any fibre (naar ).

If you want to make kootu, prepare the stem as mentioned above, follow the recipe which I have already given for snake gourd kootu ( pudalangai Kootu ) and use the stem instead of snake gourd.
Can also use with other vegetables when making kaara kuzhambu ( any spicy curry ).
Use only coconut oil if you want the stir fry to taste the best.

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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
"Have a nice day"

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