Mukunuwenna Mallam (Ponnangani Keerai, Dwarf Copperleaf Stir Fry)

I have heard a lot about Ponnangani Keerai, but don’t recall ever having consumed it. Probably because it was not available in Singapore when I lived there. Therefore, I was not even aware of what this green looked like.
I visited a roadside vegetable vendor last week and saw this green tucked away in a corner. On inquiring, I was told that it was this green. I immediately bought a couple of bunches. I then began searching for recipes. Most of the recipes were from Thamizhnadu – mainly poriyal and kootu. I have a lot of these preparations using other vegetables and greens. I wanted something more exciting. So I googled and found some really wonderful dishes from Sri Lanka. And took the plunge. With no regrets whatsoever.

Ponnangani Keerai (Dwarf Copperleaf)

500 gms dwarf copperleaf (pluck the leaves)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
2 garlic pods
1/2 coconut, grated
3 dried red chillies
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp walnuts, chopped (akhrot, nattuakrot kottai)
Wash and greens well and chop fine
Set aside
Using a pestle and mortar (or a blender) grind to a coarse paste the mustard, turmeric and garlic
Though not in the traditional recipe, I also added 1 red chilli
Add the grated coconut and continue grinding till you get a coarse paste
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the remaining red chillies
Roast for a few seconds (do not burn)
Add the ground paste and saute for about a minute
Add the chopped onions and continue to saute till the onions are translucent
Add the chopped greens and continue to saute till the greens are well blended with the grated coconut paste and have reduced to about a third of the original volume
Garnish with walnuts (this is also not in the traditional recipe)
Remove from flame and serve hot with steamed red/brown rice or Indian flatbreads

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