Pulusu is an Andhra gravy dish with tamarind. It is often called a soup or a stew, and can be made with a variety of vegetables. Okra is common, but today we make it with Malabar Spinach, one of the many different greens sometimes referred to as Chinese Spinach. It is also called Basella Spinach, Poi leaf, Bacchalikura, Vasalakkirai, Basale Soppu, Ceylon spinach, Buffalo spinach, Indian spinach, Red vine spinach, Vine spinach, and Upodika. Boy! So many names! There are more – Bachali in Andhra, Basale in Kannada, Vaali Bhaji or Valchi Bhaji in Konkani, Vallicheera in Malayalam, Mayalu in Marathi, Kodip Pasali in Tamil, and Pui Shak in Bengali.
The dish is spiced with mustard seeds and sesame seeds, and can be eaten soup-like, or with hot rice. I love it over rice. It doesn’t take very much time to make, so in this household, it is a perfect lunch dish.
Also try Malabar Spinach Pakora.
Malabar Spinach “Gravy” | Bachali Koora Pulusu
to grind to a paste
3 tspn brown mustard seeds
1 Tblspn sesame seeds
2 large or 4 small dried red Indian chillies, or to taste
1 Tblspn rice
1 Tblspn soaked tamarind pulp and water
1 bunch of Bachali (Malabar Spinach) – about 2 cups leaves
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise, or to taste
0.5 tspn turmeric
sea salt to taste
rice flour (optional)
1.5 tspn ghee
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
1 dried red Indian chilli
approx 8 curry leaves
Soak the spice paste ingredients fore 10 minutes, and then grind well to a paste.
Rinse the spinach well, and chop into large pieces. Cook with 2 cups water along with the green chillies, a little salt, and the turmeric.
Once the spinach leaves have softened and are beginning to cook, add the spice paste, and simmer for 5 – 7 minutes until the greens are cooked. Add more water if needed to adjust to your desired consistency. If a thicker gravy is required, add a little rice flour mixed to a paste with water, and stir into the dish while it is cooking. Continue to stir until the gravy thickens.
Make a tadka by heating the ghee in a small pan over medium high heat, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Allow to pop for a few moments, and then add the red chilli and curry leaves. When the splattering stops, pour the ghee and spices onto the spinach mixture.
Take off the heat, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes, and then serve with hot rice and lentils.
recipe notes and alternatives
Remove the mustard seeds in the spice paste, and add 1 Tblspn Grated Coconut for a more creamy gravy.
If desired, thicken the gravy with chickpea flour (besan) instead of rice flour, for a richer gravy.
Eat it thin like a soup, or thicker as a gravy over rice.