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Recipe | Healthy Agathi leaves with Lentil – The city I proudly call home

27 October 2014 4 Comments

healthy Agathi leaves curry

Adapting to new situations is absolutely essential to any kind of success or happiness in life. I was not born and raised in Chennai but have been living here for close to eighteen years.

New language, hot climate, different food habits and strict rituals at in-laws’ home in Chennai intimidated this simple girl from Rajasthan at first. Change is always unpleasant to some degree, I guess.

But over a period of time this city has grown on me.

I fell in love with my new city as I learned to speak the local language and started to follow the rituals at home.

And now, Chennai is the place I proudly call home!

I no longer stare at those turmeric-smeared faces of women on road, neither do I get amused by the local men lifting and folding their ‘Veshtis’ (traditional men’s garment) right in the middle of road.

I can now skillfully slurp runny rasam-rice from a banana leaf, wear a large kumkumam dot (bindi), adorn my tresses with long ‘Malli poo’ (jasmine flowers) and tie a ‘madisar’ (traditional saree) with aplomb 🙂

Well, as they said, “Adapting to new situation in life is essential and is the most valuable traits one can have in life. And if you have this trait, you can do anything.

I received a message from a South African travel and food writer, Ishay Goverder. She writes at Food and Fabulous and wanted to meet me to know more about food and people of Chennai.

I have never done a food walk before. All that I do is to go out with my family for a quick bite on weekends.

That is when I discussed with a few of my online friends and planned to take her for a food walk around some of the popular places in the city.

It was an impromptu trip to city to get a glimpse of food and culture of Chennai followed it with an unforgettable meal at hotel Savera.

We hit the road early in the morning to experience the true taste of local culture and food through the by lanes of Mylapore in Chennai.

Away from the exotic restaurants, we first ventured into local eateries around the famous Mylapore temple suggested by a friend Karthik Ganapathi and sampled a few authentic dishes.

Though the dishes looked delicious and authentic, we avoided certain dishes due for hygiene purpose.

healthy Agathi leaves curry

We drove from the hustle and bustle of Mylapore to a quiet and beautiful restaurant ‘Savera’ in R.K. Salai. We were given a warm welcome by the Chef and his team.
We were all ears to Chefs’ explanation about some of the finer pointers of South Indian cuisine.

healthy Agathi leaves curry

The time spent at ‘Malgudi‘ restaurant in Savera savoring some of the best delicacies from Southern India was the most cherished moments of our trip.

We got a chance to meet the most generous and resourceful chefs Krishna Mohan and tasted some of the best authentic cuisines of South India. And when I asked them to make a bill the chef barged in and told that ‘”It’s on me, ladies“. I was completely floored by their hospitality and thanked chef for the time he spent with us.

healthy Agathi leaves curry

We then drove to Pondy Bazar to try a popular sweet shop called ‘Sri Krishna Sweets’. The joint serves savory and sweet creations that are highly sought-after by locals. Ishay was busy writing the names of the local delicacies and clicking pictures.

Sweet Appam, savory appam, paniyarams, mor kali, ammini kozhukattai, onion pakodas, lentil vade, medu vade, idiyyapam, modak…the snacks here will never disappoint you with its exceptional taste.

healthy Agathi leaves curry

Nothing better than exploring your city with a friend sharing the same interest in food and tasting and trying out some new and some forgotten dishes.

I had a wonderful time with lovely Ishay, chatting, eating and sharing a few snippets from our lives together. We parted ways from there hoping to meet again soon.

Agathy Leaves with Lentil or Agathy Keerai kootu

healthy Agathi leaves curry

Adapting to the food habits at my hubby’s home was slightly difficult at first. Switching to eating rice for lunch and chappatis for dinner took a long time. I am yet to tune my taste buds for certain local foods such as Mavadu and Narthangai loved by my hubby.

Manatakkali (sunberry), Sundaikkai (turkey berry), Arai keerai (amaranth greens), Neem flower rasam, banana stem curry, chow-chow kootu, Pavakkai pitlai (bitter gourd) and the likes were never heard, seen or cooked at my native, Udaipur. These are some of the new foods and recipes which were introduced to me at my In-laws place for the first time and I love to cook the same.

Agathy Keerai (greens) is one another popular green cooked in many South Indian homes. My MIL taught me this recipe, but I have made a few changes to retain the nutrition and enhance the taste of the curry.

As she cooks these greens during auspicious days, onion and garlic is avoided in the recipe. But I add lots of onion to my recipe and avoid direct boiling as MIL does. She chops the greens and boil it in a large container filled with water which is drained to cook in a dry curry.  To me this process seems to drain the vital nutrients from the greens. I like to steam the greens with a tablespoon of water and then temper it with spices.

Agathi/agasthi or sesbania grandiflora is a tropical tree valued for its leaves and flowers. The leaves and flowers are extensively used in Indian cuisine. These leaves could be easily dehydrated and stored for later use when the greens are not in season. Mix the dried leaf powder in wheat flour to make Indian flat breads or chapattis or just add a spoonful of it to any curry or gravy to increase the nutrition of the recipes.

Agathi leaves which are a great source of calcium and iron taste bitter and are slightly tart in nature. Adding a little jaggery or sugar enhances the flavor of Agathy curry and reduces the bitterness.

healthy Agathi leaves curry


(serve 3)

  • 2 cups packed Agathy leaves
  • 3 tbsp. de-skinned green gram
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp jaggery/sugar
  • 1 tsp. Black gram
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • A pinch of asafetida powder
  • Salt to taste healthy Agathi leaves curry


Method; Pluck Agathy leaves from the stalk and wash in plain water.

Peel and slice the onion.

Cook the Agathy leaves with de-husked grenn gram (dhuli moong dal) in a pressure cooker with 3 tbsp of water for two whistles. Let the cooker cool and take out the cooked greens and chop them roughly.

Heat oil in a pan and crackle mustard seeds in it. Add black gram, broken red chillies, asafoetida powder, grated coconut, jaggery/sugar, salt and sauté for a few seconds.

Add chopped onion, turmeric powder and cook for 2 minutes.

Add cooked Agathy leaves with lentil in the pan and combine all the ingredients well. Remove the pan from flame and serve the hot Agathy greens with plain rice or Indian flat breads.


  1. Agathy leaves have a slight bitter taste to it which can be reduced by adding a little jaggery and coconut to the recipe.
  2. Dry the Agathy leaves and use them in curries, crepes (dosas) or flat bread to enhance the nutrition of the recipe. Dried leaves can be stored for many days in an air-tight container.

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  • rumana said:

    Perfectly healthy and quick recipe…

  • Nandita said:

    I have ever tried cooking with these greens. I am a sucker for any dish that includes greens and lentils. I would love to give this dish a try. Thanks for sharing the recipe sancta 🙂
    Nandita recently posted..Boondi LadduMy Profile

  • Ishay said:

    Hi Sanjeeta. I’m so glad we met. Thank you for your generosity, and the wonderful time in your “new” city, not to mention all the pressies. I think fondly of those little rice balls with coconut. Look forward to our next meet!

  • Giorgia said:

    Always fascinating reading about your food culture.
    What a pity not to have the opportunity to taste some vegetables you talk about!
    Giorgia recently posted..Lasagne alla zucca ed Herve per l’MTCMy Profile

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