Monday, March 07, 2011

Fenugreek leaves/Menthi kura pappu

Toor dal in the cooker is like a meal made already for me. You could either add a few vegetables along with it or cook them separately, either ways you have a meal ready in about 30 mins. I usually make tomato/spinach/budamakaya (lemon cucumber) but when I can find fresh fenugreek leaves I use them to make this flavorful pappu. Fresh methi/menthi kura has a pungent flavor and when cooked its aromatic and addictive. I love it in all its forms -seeds, fresh & dried leaves.

The seeds are my best friend while making idli/dosa batter at home and also are a crucial part of pickles, the best condiment ever made. During summer, every morning my mom would force me to eat a cup of yogurt that had the seeds soaking in them overnight. This same mixture when applied to hair before washing acts a  great hair conditioner too.  Diabetics and nursing mothers are recommended a higher intake of these seeds due to their specific nutritive properties. The seeds are known to cool your body internally and even now when I see pimples peeping out, I immediately get some seeds soaking :) I always add a few seeds to the pressure cooker along with the toor dal too because otherwise I rarely use them in other recipes.

The dried leaves are that secret ingredient that adds the restaurant flavor that your north Indian curries made at home have been missing all this time. Crush a spoon of leaves in the palm of your hands and sprinkle it about 10mins before the gravy is done. The aroma that this adds and the flavor it brings will make you a want to hold the secret close to your heart when giving out recipes :) And the fresh leaves, aah, they are a delight to the taste buds. Unlike other greens, these guys have a robust flavor and are not shy to show it off. They are mildly bitter, a little sour and highly addictive :) My favorite way to use them is in aloo methi, thepla and true to my telugu roots, as pappu.

They do take some preparation when the mature plants are harvested. The stems get tough and leaves need to be picked off the stems when used for cooking. For tender plants though you can use the stems & leaves in the recipe. Fenugreek is really easy to grow at home, just soak the seeds in water for a few hours, allow them to drain and rest in a moist cheese cloth/tissue for 10-12hrs. You will see tiny sprouts begin to pop out, scatter them on loose soil and within a week you will see green stems peeking out. The plants in the photograph are < 3 weeks old. I am waiting to see how high they go before harvesting them. Not making any promises though :)
Menthi kura Pappu/Methi dal

  • 1 cup - Toor dal, washed & drained
  • 1 cup, packed - Fenugreek leaves, washed
  • 1/2 cup - Onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup - Tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 nos - Green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • a pinch of turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp - thick Tamarind pulp extract or 1/2 tsp store bought paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp - Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Popu/flavor oil - 1 tsp ghee/oil, 1/2 tsp cumin & mustard seeds, a few curry leaves, 1 dried red chilli, sliced garlic or pinch of asafoetida/ inguva
  1. Pressure cook the toor dal with pinch of hing. In another pan, heat the oil and saute sliced onions and green chillies. When the onions soften and turn translucent add chopped tomatoes, turmeric and cook until they turn mushy.
  2. The washed, drained fenugreek leaves go in next, roughly chop them before adding if needed. Add a little salt and continue to cook until the leaves wilt and lose their rawness, ~ 6-8 mins.
  3. The dal should be done by now, once the pressure is released add the methi leaves mixture to the dal along with tamarind pulp and cook for another 10-15mins on low simmer. Taste test for salt and add more water if needed to get to a consistency that you like.
  4. Right before serving, add the popu by toasting the ingredients lightly in ghee and top it over the dal. Serve with hot rice or chapati.
You can cook all the ingredients together in the pressure cooker or, once the methi leaves are wilted in step 2 add the uncooked toor dal to the whole mixture, add required amount of water and continue cooking until done. Use a method thats convenient to you, each might have a very slight variation in taste.
I don't think I have to say how good pappu over a mound of warm rice tastes. Doing the popu in ghee at the very end will add a really great flavor and aroma to the pappu. The ghee mellows out all the high notes in the pappu and brings out the underlying creaminess of the dal. The methi is the real star of the dish though, its complex soury, bitter flavor is hard to explain and you will have to make this pappu to understand why so many of us love it.

19 thoughts:

Priya's Feast said...

I luv the way u used the methis from ur gardening skills..The dish luks so delicious..

Sonia@7spice said...

I could tell only: This post is just feast for my eyes! :)

Prathibha said...

Looks like true Andhra this a lot especially it tastes best with ghee n hot rice..

Shama Nagarajan said...

delicious dal...looks great

Tina said...

mouthwatering n healthy dish...

Hari Chandana said...

Wowwwwwwwww.. Simply delicious.. amazing presentation priya.. thanks for sharing !!

Pavani said...

Love Menthikura pappu. One of my favorites too. Hey Priya btw, what lens did you use to take the methi seeds pic? Tks.

Kalyani said...

wow i love this pappu ... lovely click and looks tempting .........

Pavithra said...

Serious drooling over all ur pictures.. beautiful clicks..and offcourse the pappu too.

Soumya Vineeth said...

This is truly healthy and lovely dish!

Anu Menon said...

I can see the dondakai fry on the side :)
Methi is my Mom's fav green leaf

Anu Menon said...

I can see the dondakai fry on the side :)
Methi is my Mom's fav green leaf

divya said...

Thats a beautiful and healthy dal,wonderful clicks...

Radhika said...

Love this dal Priya. So delicious

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

Hey, loved, how you have grown methi :)

Priya said...

Priya, I can't wait to use the current batch now :)

Sonia, thank you >:D<

Prathibha, aah, that is an excellent combo, simple but fabulous.

Shama, Tina, thank you

Hari, I spent almost an hour going through your posts, you have such an excellent collection of andhra recipes.

Pavani, I used my 18-250 mm zoom lens for that one, same for the methi plants too.

Kalyani, Pavithra, Soumya, thank you :) I'm making an attempt to include photos of the ingredients so that I can experiment more with the styling.

Anu, dondakai happens to be a fav with both of us :D No matter how much I chop we end up with just a bowlful, hmph.

Divya, Radhika, thank you for dropping by :)

Divya Vikram said...

Your macro pics are amazing! Love the fenugreek pic..

Soma said...

one of my fave ways to have dal!! esp. with the so fragrant young homegrown ones. Priya your photographs make me want to reach out and touch the crisp leaves. So beautiful.

Now Serving said...

Can't believe this is the first time I am stopping by - Methi dal looks amazingly good! Following :)
Cheers, Priya

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