1. Grind coconut, garlic, cumin seeds red chile powder and turmeric in a blender. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a pot and add the toor dal. Cook for 3 minutes then add the red spinach along with 1½ cups of water, turmeric and salt. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes until the red spinach and dal are cooked.
3. Add the ground coconut mixture and boil for another 5 minutes until the curry thickens and the dal is cooked through. Test to see if the salt is sufficient. If necessary, add more salt.
4. In a hot pan with 1 tablespoon of oil, add mustard seeds. When they pop, add 2 whole dried red chiles, the curry leaves and the remaining grated coconut. Continue frying until the coconut is brown in color. Add this to the curry and stir well.
1 cup coconut, grated
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp red chile powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbs oil
1/2 cup toor dal, rinsed
3 cups red spinach leaves, chopped
1 Tbs oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
2 dried red chiles
1/2 Tbs coconut, grated
Red spinach is a special vegetable in India and is very popular in Kerala. In Kerala it is called chuvappu cheera and in Madras it is called sigappu keera. It is not a variety of traditional spinach known to grow in clumps but rather a different genus entirely. As a plant, it grows on vibrant red stems that looked like fresh rhubarb and has large, luscious leaves. I think it somewhat resembles a coleus plant.
When my husband brought home a bunch of red spinach, I decided to make an Ericherry which is a traditional recipe from Kerala that uses chopped vegetables, small lentils and, of course, coconut. I was pleased with the resulting dish. The contrast of the dark green “red” spinach with the golden brown toor dal was striking; the flavors and textures paired perfectly. Since the dal didn’t have to be cooked in advance, the recipe is very easy to make and can be set on the back burner while you prepare another dish for your meal.