Go Back
+ servings
Keerai Kootu served in a bowl with a spoon resting on the side

Keerai Kootu | Spinach Lentils Stew

Keerai Kootu is a simple South Indian vegan spinach/palak recipe. Learn to make this healthy Indian spinach dish in the Instant pot and on the stovetop! This easy recipe can be made in just 30 minutes.
Course entree, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Indian, South Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 179.82kcal



To make the coconut paste

To make the stew


Instant Pot Version

  • First, chop and rinse spinach and keep it aside.
  • Soak toor dal for 15 minutes.

To make the coconut paste

  • In a blender jar, add shredded coconut, green chillies, and cumin seeds.
  • Blitz to a smooth paste. Add water if it's too dry. Keep it aside for now.

To make the stew

  • Turn on the Instant Pot in 'Saute' mode and add oil. Once it beeps, temper mustard seeds and urad dal.
  • Once the urad dal turns light golden, add the coconut paste and 1/4 cup water.
  • Drain the water from the lentils and add them to the pot. Give it a mix.
  • Next, add the chopped spinach. Mix it all together.
  • Add water or vegetable stock, and salt. The level of water should just be 1 inch above the spinach.
  • Basically, it should be fully submerged in the water. Turn off the saute mode.
  • Close the lid and select 'Manual/Pressure' mode. Cook for 8 minutes and release pressure naturally.
  • Once done, open the lid and give it a quick stir. Keerai Kootu is ready to serve.

Stovetop version

  • Add the chopped spinach, tur dal lentils, water or stock, salt, and turmeric powder to a pressure cooker or vessel and cook. I usually cook everything in a pressure cooker as it's convenient.
  • Give it 2-3 whistles as the lentils must get well cooked. Do not drain the water once done and keep it aside for now.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the coconut paste as mentioned above.
  • Heat oil in a pan, temper mustard seeds, then add urad dal, asafoetida, and curry leaves. Fry for 30 seconds or till the urad dal turns golden.
  • Then add the coconut mixture to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Then add the boiled spinach and lentils mixture to the pan. Simmer and bring it to a boil.
  • If the curry is too liquid, then just mix little flour and water and add it to the pan. It will thicken instantly.


If you want, you can add a mix of greens (kale, collard greens, beet leaves) instead of just spinach. 
Just ensure the greens are of good quality and not wilted. You can also use frozen spinach here. Thaw it first and then use the required amount. 
You can use any lentils like moong dal, tur dal, or masoor dal in this recipe. 
Don't add too much water when cooking spinach. It doesn't need too much water. You can also use vegetable stock instead.
Use fresh, frozen, desiccated, or shredded coconut in this palak recipe. Just ensure it is unsweetened. 
To boost the protein in here, throw in some beans like black-eyed peas, chickpeas, or kidney beans. 
Add 1-2 tablespoons of sambhar powder along with the coconut paste for a different and delicious flavor.
This same recipe can be followed to make lauki, cabbage, beans, gourd, chow chow, or pumpkin kootu. 
It stays good for 4-5 days in the fridge. You can also freeze this stew. 
Can you make it without coconut?
Yes, you can. However, that will alter the taste. Follow the recipe as is but skip adding the coconut paste.
Instead, you can add a tempering of mustard seeds, green chillies, garlic, and chopped onions in the end.
It's a very easy and tasty variant of this palak recipe that you can try. 
How to adjust the consistency of the kootu?
If when done, the kootu is very thick, add little water/stock to get the desired consistency and bring it to a boil. Add salt accordingly. 
If it is too thin or watery, prepare a slurry by mixing 1 tablespoon flour with 2-3 tablespoon water. Add this and mix. It will help thicken it up.


Calories: 179.82kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 8.9g | Fat: 6.41g | Saturated Fat: 3.74g | Sodium: 217.92mg | Potassium: 711.38mg | Fiber: 7.76g | Sugar: 6.68g | Vitamin A: 10652.38IU | Vitamin C: 34.56mg | Calcium: 139.78mg | Iron: 5.38mg