Methi-Chana Dal Sabji / Fenugreek-Lentils Stir Fry
Methi/Fenugreek is quite versatile in the sense that – a) fresh leaves can be used similar to any leafy greens to make a parathas, curries or dal, b) dried leaves often referred to as ‘Kasuri Methi‘ can be used in curries to add a beautiful aroma and earthy flavor and c) it’s seeds can be used as a tempering and/or to add bitterness in various dishes. I always stock up on the methi seeds, often keep kasuri methi handy and every now-and-then get my hands on some fresh methi on grocery trips to make parathas or a simple saute as this. The thing I absolutely love about fenugreek apart from it’s significant iron nutrition and the pale bitter taste is its beautiful aroma. It gives a unique flair to any dish.
Sabji refers to ‘curry’ in a broader sense in Hindi. But, this is more of a stir fry like a simple saute of fenugreek and lentils along with some basic spices. Lentils add a nice protein element. I have used chana dal (split chickpeas) here as I find it to be the right size with a good crunch to it. But, you could try substituting your favorite variety of lentils. Soak the lentils prior to cooking so that it will take lesser time to cook. They should be soft enough to eat yet slightly crunchy enough to feel the texture. I usually don’t go overboard with spices when I cook with greens. I barely use chilli powder in such sautes as green chillies provide the necessary spice kick that is enough to please the taste buds.
The only thing that irks me about methi is the time it takes to separate the leaves. And after all the time put in, the quantity of curry made does not quite match the effort. So, I always make sure to separate the leaves the previous night (without rinsing). The next day, I rinse the leaves thoroughly and it’s easy peasy to put the curry together then. Serve this stir fry with rotis or tortillas. Spread it over and make a nutritious, healthy wrap. You could also serve it with plain white rice accompanied with some yogurt.
Prep time: 1 hour (to seperate and clean the leaves) + 30 mins (to soak lentils)
Cook time: 20 mins
- Methi/Fenugreek leaves – 2 bunches ~ 3 cups
- Chana Dal/Split Chickpeas – 1 cup
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Cloves – 3 (optional)
- Curry leaves – a fistful ~ 6 to 8 count
- Onion – 1 large
- Green chillies – 4 or 5
- Ginger-Garlic paste – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
- Salt – 1 tsp or to taste
1. Separate the methi leaves from the bunches and take them in a colander. Rinse thoroughly under running water to remove any muddy dirt. Squeeze out all the excess water and set aside.
2. Soak the chana dal/lentils in a bowl of water for around 25 to 30 minutes. This will make them softer and easier to cook.
3. In a wok or a skillet, heat 2 tsps of oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves and curry leaves. When they begin to splutter (in a minute or two), add finely chopped onions and green chillies. Saute for a few minutes until the onions are
translucent or light brown in color.
4. Drain all the water and add the dal to the skillet. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and saute for about 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Now, add the set aside methi leaves to the skillet. Saute for around 8 to 10 mins, until the leaves and lentils come together nicely.
Serve warm with rotis, tortillas or rice.