malabar spinach recipe | malabar spinach with black eyed beans

Malabar spinach recipe with black eyed beans – this is one of our comforting and a favorite curry with Malabar spinach and black eyed beans (chawli or lobia).

This Mangalorean curry recipe comes from my aunt who is from Mangalore. My mom learnt it from her and then used to make this curry often. We would always have it with steamed rice.

malabar spinach curry recipe, mangalorean style malabar spinach curry

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Malabar spinach has these juicy succulent stems that I like and most of the times I end up making this curry with this nutritious green veggie. We also make this curry with jack fruit seeds at times. i even make pakoras with the leaves and stems at times. i have Malabar spinach growing in my balcony since I cannot get them here at all.

Malabar spinach

Malabar spinach is also known botanically as basella alba. in marathi we call it Mayalu and in Konkani Valchi bhaji. in Bengali, my neighbor calls it Pui shaak. i think in hindi it is called as poi saag.

Quoted from Wikipedia –  Malabar spinach is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed vine having thick, semi-succulent, heart-shaped leaves. They have a mild flavour and mucilaginous texture. It is usually referred to as the “spinach”, even though it is not related to the true spinach. Typical of leaf vegetables, Malabar spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, but high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber. Among many other possibilities, Malabar spinach may be used to thicken soups or stir-fries with garlic and chili peppers.

Now coming back to this curry…. Whole spices are roasted and then ground with coconut which gives the curry its aromatic flavor and taste. To give a slight tang to the gravy we always add tomatoes and not tamarind. May be my mom did not like tamarind and thus she substituted with tomatoes. What you get is a smoothness of the black eyed beans and the succulent cooked Malabar spinach stems in an aromatic spiced coconut curry.

roasted spices for Malabar spinach curry recipe

The Malabar spinach gravy goes very well with steamed rice. Sometimes I make parathas or chapatis also to go with the curry. The curry thickens after some time and so, is then best had with chapatis or bread.

Malabar spinach curry recipe, Mangalorean style Malabar spinach curry

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malabar spinach recipe

4.5 from 2 votes
Spiced coconut based curry made with Malabar spinach and black eyed beans from the Mangalorean cuisine.
mangalorean malabar spinach curry recipe
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:20 mins
Total Time:40 mins
Course:main course
Servings (change the number to scale):3 to 4
(1 CUP = 250 ML)


main ingredients for malabar spinach recipe

  • ¾ cup black eyed beans (lobia or chawli)
  • 1 to 1.5 cup chopped malabar spinach leaves and stems (mayalu or valchi bhaji or pui shaak)
  • ¾ to 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 3 to 4 garlic (lahsun)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • salt as required

for dry roasting the spices

  • 3 teaspoon coriander seeds (sabut dhania)
  • 2 teaspoon cumin (sabut jeera)
  • 3 to 4 whole black peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 2 to 3 dry red chilies (sookhi lal mirch)


cooking black eyed beans

  • Rinse and soak the black eyed beans (chawli or lobia) in enough water overnight or for 5 to 6 hours.
  • Drain them and pressure cook the black eyed beans in 2 or 2.5 cups water along with salt, till they are cooked well and softened. They should not become mushy.

making malabar spinach recipe

  • Heat a small skillet or pan. Add all the whole spices and on a low heat dry roast them till aromatic.
  • When the spices cool, add them to a grinder long with grated coconut.
  • Add some water and make a smooth paste of the roasted spices with the coconut.
  • Keep the coconut-spices paste aside.
  • Lightly crush garlic in a mortar-pestle keeping the peels on it. Just crushing them lightly, not making a paste of them.
  • Finely chop the onions and dice the tomatoes.
  • Rinse and remove the leaves from the stems of the malabar spinach. Small leaves can be kept intact. Large leaves can be chopped.
  • Cut the tender stems in 1 or 1.5 inch pieces. If the stems are not tender, you will have cook them separately in water in a pan or pressure cooker, till they are cooked well.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Crackle the mustard first.
  • Then add the crushed garlic with their peels. Saute for 4-5 seconds
  • Add onions and saute till translucent. Add the tomatoes and coconut spice paste
  • Stir and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the malabar spinach leaves and stems.
  • Stir and add 1 to 1.5 cups stock or water. Season with salt and stir again.
  • Simmer the curry for 6-7 minutes on a low to medium flame.
  • Add the cooked black eyed beans and simmer for 6-7 minutes or more, till all the flavors are well blended. You will see specks of oil on top of the curry when its done.
  • Add water if required if the curry looks thick and continue to simmer.
  • The curry is neither thick nor thin, but of medium consistency.
  • Lastly, garnish the gravy with chopped coriander leaves if you prefer.
  • Serve the malabar spinach gravy hot with steamed rice and chapatis.
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Dassana Amit

Dassana Amitnamaste and welcome to which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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23 comments/reviews

  1. you are such a darling, never thought that i will find the recipe of pooin shaag, as i got bored with my granma’s same old recipe, thank you so much.4 stars

    • Welcome Amrita. Thanks for your sweet words.

  2. Hi!
    This recipe looks delicious!
    I have a question, Can I use frozen spinach instead? If so, how can i incorporate with ingredients?


    Best regards,


    • welcome maria. yes you can use. same as mentioned in the recipe.

  3. Hi Dassana,

    I am endlessly spending time on your blog today and I love it. I mean to try this recipe. Could I use normal spinach or Baby spinach instead of the malabar variety and dessicated coconut instead of fresh?

    Thanks for your help in advance.


    • did you bookmark recipes to make, keerthi? you can use baby spinach or normal spinach instead of malabar spinach. and even substituted desiccated coconut instead of fresh coconut. but the stems of spinach won’t be succulent like malabar spinach. but still the recipe will taste good and can be adapted.

      • Hi Dassana,

        There s nothing on your blog that I don’t want to try. Everything is presented and explained so well.

        By the way yesterday I made kadai paneer, again a brilliant result. Thanks Dassana you are the Best Vegetarian Blogger I have come across 🙂

        Also I shall try the Malabar spinach curry tomorrow with Baby Spinach and desiccated coconut.

        Thanks again 🙂

        • thanks a lot keethi. your comment means a lot to me 🙂

        • Superb result Dassana. The curry turned out excellent.

          Thanks a ton.5 stars

        • welcome keerthi

  4. I used to see this poi saag in the market but since I didn’t know what it was – always pass it up. I stumbled upon this recipe and immediately went and bought it 🙂 I made this curry today – and wow – I loved the flavours! So different from your regular curries and loved poi saag 🙂 Thanks a ton for sharing the recipe!

    • thanks a lot aboli.

  5. i have tried a couple of your other recipes and think they are great. i’ve yet to try this one. i’m confused about why it is important to leave the garlic peels on. They are never mentioned again. i thought maybe we would be instructed to take them out after sauteeing. Am i missing something? Thanks!

    • garlic with peels while tempering and sauteing, giving a distinct taste that do not come when we just add peeled chopped garlic. you can try this while tempering dal or sambar or any vegetable dish. no need to take them out after sauteing. while serving, then you can remove the peels.

  6. I love black eyed peas. This looks delicious. Thank you for including the English names of the various ingredients. It’s hard to follow a recipe when I have to keep Googling words. Your recipes are very easy to follow and understand.

    • welcome savannagal and thanks for sharing your feedback.

  7. curry was v good.. went well with other dishes and was v tasty too. will save this recipe for future use.

    • thanks michelle for the positive feedback.

  8. I am bookmaking this. My neighbour has this and I will get it from her. Thanks

    • do try 🙂

  9. Loved this recipe. Exactly how my mom makes 🙂

    • thanks richa. fyi – my aunt is also a shetty and from the bunt community.