Cheera Thoran/Laal Bhaji thoran is a very simple and easy to make recipe which is loaded with lots of nutrition. Red spinach is known to have a range of health benefits and is known to be good for digestion, anemia and improving kidney function and overall immunity.
I still remember when my mother used to grow Red spinach in our kitchen garden. My mother used to make Cheera Thoran from freshly cut spinach leaves and I must say it tasted divine since the leaves were straight from our garden to dinner table.
When making Cheera thoran, slightly young stems are preferred, since it will have relatively soft stems and will be devoid of flowers. But if you are buying your spinach from the local market you may sometimes get spinach with hard stems and flowers. But don’t wory, just cut off the hard portion of the stem and discard all the floral part too.
You can find different variations for making this thoran, like mixing grated coconut along with the spinach leaves and cooking it all together or adding the grated coconut at the very end. Here, I have posted the step by step procedure to make Red Spinach (Laal Bhaji) Thoran recipe the way my Mom used to make. You can vary the steps but the basic ingredients remain more or less the same.
Ingredients for Cheera Thoran:
Red spinach- 500 gms
Grated Coconut- 3/4th cup
Onion (medium size)-1 (chopped)
Garlic- 6-7 cloves
Cumin Seeds (jeera)- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Green chillies/Red chillies- 1-2 (slit) (optional)
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 7-8
Sunflower oil/Coconut Oil- 1 tbsp
Coconut oil- 1 tsp (For garnishing) (optional)
How to make Kerala style Cheera Thoran (Red Spinach Thoran):
- Remove the root of the red spinach along with the thicker part of the stem. Wash the spinach thoroughly under running tap water for 3-4 times or until free of dirt.
- Spread the spinach on a clean cloth which in turn soaks up the excess water from leaves. Doing this prevents the thoran from being too mushy and wet.*
- Once the leaves have lost the wetness*, chop the leaves finely, and keep aside.
- In the meantime, transfer the grated coconut, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder in a grinder (You may not see the masala in the picture, since I added it beforehand and is therefore concealed under the coconut layer) 😉
- Grind it coarsely so that it is mixed well. Avoid grinding the coconut to a fine paste.
- In a pan, heat some oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the curry leaves and chopped green chillies.
- Next add the chopped onions.
- As soon as the onion turns translucent (no need to brown the onions), add the spinach leaves and saute for 2 minutes. At this time, the leaves will start to release water. Cover it with a lid and let it cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- After 2-3 minutes, when the leaves start to soften a bit, its time to add the grated coconut mixture. For this, make a well in between by shifting the spinach to a side.
- Add the coconut mixture in the centre.
- Now cover it with spinach, sprinkle salt and some water and again close the lid and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Open the lid and pour a little coconut oil. (skip this step if you don’t like the taste of coconut oil). Now mix everything well and cook on high heat for 2 minutes so that the leaves loses some of the visible moisture.**
- Red spinach thoran is ready to be served. Garnish it with some grated coconut and serve it a a side dish along with hot steaming rice.
*Don’t dry the leaves too much as leaves will wilt and will lose its freshness. Just make sure the leaves don’t have much visible water droplets on it.
**Avoid cooking for long time, as the spinach loses it’s natural colour and turns dark.