Terrace to table – வல்லாரை கீரை – Vallarai keerai (pennywort)

Vallarai, also known as Brahmi, is a type of keerai or spinach that is loaded with medicinal benefits and is really easy to grow at home. வல்லமை தரும் வல்லாரைக் கீரை – vallarai keerai gives strength is the reason it is called vallarai. It spreads along the soil so if you are trying to grow it at home make sure it has room to spread.

Even though I live in Chennai, I had not eaten this keerai till I was introduced to it in Sri Lanka where the locals have this amazing Gotukola soup every morning. Of course, I chased down the chef at the hotel we were at and got the recipe from him (recipe link hereThis soup is now it is a regular feature at our table. Now that I grow it in my terrace garden, it gets included in some form or another in our meals. 

gotukola soup

This keerai prevents anemia, is a blood purifier, boosts memory power and is widely used in Siddha and Ayurveda preparations. Other benefits include mitigating of joint pain, healing stomach ulcers, reducing stress and anxiety as well as in treating skin disorders. All these benefits in addition to being a great source of many vitamins and minerals makes this a “must have” in your diet. Next time you come across this keerai in the market, do get some and try out some of our recipes. Alternately, you can easily grow it at home so you have ready access to it. You can make soup, koottu or sambar also but recently I made a vallarai tuvaiyal. There is a tinge of bitterness similar to other bitter vegetables like bitter gourd or methi leaves but once you cook it, the bitterness is gone. For the tuvaiyal, just fry a spoonful of chana dal and urad dal, dried red chillies, asafoetida and black pepper and a couple of tomatoes in a spoon of oil. Remove from the stove and then fry 2 tablespoons of coconut and then 2 cups of washed vallarai leaves till cooked. Cooking the vallarai gets rid of the bitterness without destroying the medicinal value of this keerai. You should not add tamarind to this keerai as that will reduce many of the medicinal benefits. That’s why we add tomatoes. Grind with very little water and the salt required. Some people like to add onions and garlic to this tuvaiyal too.

vallarai keerai thuvaiyal
vallarai keerai tuvaiyal

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