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If there is a green variety that is not available in Chennai markets  but  in our native village , it is pasarai.

It is pearl sized tiny greens that spreads on the garden floor.  It requires the least attention from the gardener , requires minimal water.  The tiny succulents cover the earth as a thick blanket with tiny yellow flowers. So they are also called as ‘payviri’ in tamil 🙂

It is also called as “Siru pasalai” , “Tharai Pasalai” in Tamil and chicken weed in English.

20141214_150113Botanical name: Portulaca quadrifida


It belongs to the family of purslane and according to this article , it is “Used for asthma, cough, urinary discharges, inflammations and ulcers.”

Facts apart , most of the city dwellers know them as herb, whereas , back home, my mom cook a delicious meal out of them . The tiny leaves are going to take some of your precious time to sort out , but believe me, it is worth every second spent . The plant roots at every joint , so you need to separate the stem and leaves out . For me , it  easily takes 30 minutes to sort and get  just a fistful of cookable  greens.


The recipe is simple like any other musical, but the taste is extraordinary and no other greens can give such an aroma and flavor to the dish.


Toor dall – 1/2 cup

Pasarai keerai – fistful

Medium Onion -1 ( cubed )

Big tomato – 1 (cubed)

Dry red chillies – 5 numbers

Garlic – 10 small cloves ( or 5 big cloves )

Tamarind – Lemon size.

Method :

Pressure cook toor dall and chilled , add the greens , onion , tomato , garlic . Cook them till the greens are thoroughly cooked . It takes relative longer time to cook the succulent pearls than the other amaranthus kind of leaves. You can pressure cook them again if you want, I cooked them in an earthen pot on simmer. Take care not to add water more than what is needed to cook the veggies. When cooked, drop the  tamarind in the hot mixture. This softens  the tamarind but not fully cook it. This is a key trick not to cook the tamarind as the rawish taste of tamarind adds a nice punch to the dish . The dall is smashed with salt added and never returns to the stove. The smashing – You can use Kal Chatti and mathu , the traditional tools  or a hand blender will also do the job in a hurry. When the dhall is pureed , stop the churning and prepare the tadka .


Tadka :


Curry leaves


Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a kadai , splutter the crushed vadagam (If not , mustard and urad dall) followed by the curry leaves.

While it is still hot , pour it on top of the dall. Churn quickly to integrate the tadka into the dish. By now,the aroma might have invited all you family members to the dining table . 🙂

Enjoy the masiyal with hot rice and rice papads.


PS: If  you are on a mission to grow these in your backyard, terrace or balcony , save those remains of the keerai stems , lay them gently on the soil, in couple of weeks time, you will see the green carpet decorating your garden space.



Do You Know?

Do you know the name of this greens?


Sirukeerai / Amaranthus

Today morning,I harvested my first organic greens from my terrace garden. It was also the first time I had succeeded in raising a plant from its seed. I feel proud and accomplished even though all I did was to sow and sprinkle water and keep it in the full sun. It feels good to be harmonious with nature :-).

The day had started with light showers in my neighborhood and the greens waved as if they were welcoming me. I snipped off the top leaves thanking nature for the first promising harvest. I knew there is no need to ‘deweed’ or ‘triple wash’ the leaves as I knew them right from the time they germinated.

It is true, happiness is gardening 🙂

Poha upma was introduced to me in Mumbai when I went to my sister-in -law’s house in 1998. It was one super easy dish I learnt from my s-i-l as a beginner in kitchen. If you do the tadka right and garnish right , there is no failing.  🙂

Here is the dish which is great to whip up quickly in a busy morning.  I have used brown rice flakes as a healthier alternative.


Ingredients :

Brown rice flakes / sigappu arisi aval / brown poha  – 4 cups after soaking

Onion – Big size – 1 number

Cooked potato – 2 numbers

Tadka ingredients as seen in picture

Soak the poha after washing it thoroughly for 10- 15 minutes. Drain the excess water .

Cook potato in a cooker with salt needed  and dice it. Heat oil in a pan, throw in mustard, urad dall, gram dall, chili, ginger  and curry leaves. Add onions and when they turn translucent , add potato dices , salt and poha , give a gentle stir and turn off the heat. Cover it for 5 minutes .  Add some asafoetida and garnish with finely chopped coriander /cilantro .

I have added onion to my taste, if you like to add more, please do and increase chillies proportionally. We can also add crushed roasted peanuts for crunchy texture , more veggies for a wholesome meal . Those who like tangy sweet twist , can top it with sugar sprinkle and lime juice squirts. The choices , as you see,  are many , define the dish as you want , it is the fun that is all it  matters . 🙂


Have a great time cooking!


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