Malabar Spinach Stir Fry (Vali Upakari)

Malabar Spinach Stir Fry (Vali Upakari)

Need a healthy but delicious, simple & easy dish to make for dinner? Then try this Konkani style basella stir fry. 
Serve it as a side dish for dinner, have it with steaming hot congee or drink it up as a soup! It's super nutritious too. 

Ever since we were kids we've heard we need to eat leavy greens & that they're good for us. My favourite leafy greens are basella that are highly nutritious. It is extremely rich in antioxidants, especially when it's fresh, steamed, or quickly boiled. It is a rich source of vitamin A, iron and calcium and is packed with so many many more nutrients that I don't want to bore you with.

Basella are also known as Malabar spinach in India and is called 'vali' in Konkani. We prepare a lot of basella dishes in Konkani cuisine. Some of them are:

Malabar Spinach Masala (Vali Sukke)

Malabar Spinach Coconut Curry (Vali Randayi)

Malabar Spinach Tambli (Vali Tambali/Thambali) 

Malabar Spinach In Coconut Chutney (Vali Sasam)

Malabar Spinach In Spicy, Tangy Coconut Chutney And Curds Gravy (Vali Mosuru Bajji)

We also make spicy fritters (called ambado in Konkani) and spicy dosas (called as sanna polo in Konkani) for lunch, dinner using basella.

And we prepare a simple stir fry called as vali upakari in Konkani. And is served as a side dish for lunch, dinner in Konkani households.

This simple stir fry is flavourful, delicious and super easy to make. A flavourful garlic seasoning and fresh grated coconut adds so much taste and flavour into this stir fry. While you season this stir fry with garlics, the lovely smell fills your house and your neighbourhood with it's aroma. 

You have to try this healthy, simple stir fry which you can also eat as a soup (by adding a little more water while cooking it. Read more at the bottom of the recipe). Here goes the recipe:


  • 1 big bunch of Malabar spinach leaves and tender stems. 
  • 7-8 garlic cloves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 cup of grated coconut

Serves: 2-3

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Method of preparation:

1. Remove Malabar spinach leaves off their stem, wash them well and finely chop them.

 2. Wash well tender Malabar spinach stems if you like them and want to use in the stir fry. I use only the tender most stems that we can bite through & swallow. Me & my hubby do not enjoy eating mature stems. Use them too if you like eating them. 

Chop them into pieces of 2-3 inches length.

3. Peel the garlic cloves and smash them a little so that they give out their flavour.

4. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add in the smashed garlic and saute them until they start to brown. Then add in dried red chilles broken into pieces and fry them for a minute.

5. Once the garlics are almost golden brown and the red chillies are fried well, add in chopped spinach, salt, grated coconut,1/4 cup of water and mix well.

If you're using stems, then make sure they are at the bottom of the pressure cooker to ensure proper cooking. Mature stems will need more water to cook. If you're using a lot of spinach stems then add about 1/2-3/4 cup of water.

6. Pressure cook them for just one whistle. Spinach gives out water on cooking. 

7. When the pressure of the cooker is released, mix all the ingredients well, check and adjust salt.

8. If you like a dry stir fry, then boil off any excess water remaining after cooking.

9. Serve hot as a side dish for lunch/dinner.

My twist to the good old dry, stir fry (vali upakari): To drink it as a soup which we love at home!

I add in an extra cup of water to the stir fry/upakari while cooking the spinach. That way I have a very flavourful broth with spinach in it in the end. I serve it in a bowl as a soup before dinner and we love drinking it!  

Find more Konkani cuisine side dishes here

Tags: Malabar spinach, vali, upakari, stir fry, side dish, lunch, dinner, healthy, Konkani recipe, Konkani dish, Konkani cuisine, Udupi cuisine, Mangalore food, Konkani food, basella