Methi is the Hindi term for fenugreek. The term Methi is overloaded in its use to refer to fenugreek seeds or leaves. Daal is the Hindi term for a long list of lentils that includes pigeon peas, split yellow peas, green gram etc. This recipe uses fresh fenugreek leaves and a combination of pigeon peas and split yellow lentils (called tuvar daal and channa daal in Indian grocery stores). Fenugreek is a bitter herb, the seeds are more potently bitter. However when you balance the bitterness with the smoothness of cooked daal, sweet onions, tomatoes, sour tamarind juice, heating spices; harmony abounds in the pot. Fenugreek is widely used in Indian cooking and sometimes it is the secret ingredient that amps up the taste. As a bonus, fenugreek is also supposed to benefit regulation of blood sugar and blood pressure.

Since the daal and vegetables have different cooking times, it is optimal to use a pressure cooker to cook the daal while the vegetables are cooked in a separate pan. The softened daal is combined with the vegetables towards the end of the cooking time. The finishing touch is a seasoned oil that is deepened with flavors of garlic, asafetida, fresh curry leaves, cumin, black mustard, and dry red chillies. The amount of water specified in this recipe is an approximation, and you might need to take away or add to what I mentioned here. The final consistency of the daal is kind of like a nice creamy broccoli soup.

Methi daal is traditionally eaten as an accompaniment to fresh rotis, chapatis or steamed white rice. In today’s carb-aware-shunning world, it tastes as good with cooked quinoa, barley, brown rice or buckwheat. If you are the kind that prioritizes taste over calories, top your serving of daal with a teaspoon of ghee. Life is good with food like this.

1/2 cup pigeon peas or tuvar daal
4 tbsps yellow split peas or channa daal
1 big bunch fresh fenugreek leaves
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 serrano pepper, slit lengthwise
1 tsp coriander seed powder
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 - 1/2 tsp red chilli powder aka cayenne
salt to taste
4 tbsps thick tamarind juice

2 tbsps vegetable oil
4 fat cloves garlic, roughly crushed
1/4 tsp asafetida
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
12 fresh curry leaves
2 dry red chillies (mild) 

Place the daals with 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker. Since pressure cookers are different, follow directions specified by your manufacturer to cook the daal to a soft consistency.

20160410_220728589_iOS Prepare the methi leaves by first separating the tender leaves off the woody stalks. Wash thoroughly using a colander to get rid of any grit. Chop the washed leaves finely. Combine the fenugreek leaves, diced onions, tomatoes, serrano pepper, coriander, cumin, salt, red chili powder, tamarind juice, with about 1.5 cups of water and set over medium heat and cook until the vegetables are soft and the color is a deep green.

Add the cooked daal to the cooked vegetables, and combine. Add water if necessary but don't over do it. To make the seasoning, in a separate pan, heat the oil and add all the seasoning ingredients to it. When the mustard seeds start popping and the garlic is browning lightly on the edges, transfer the seasoning to the daal-vegetable mixture and combine. Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve.