Vendhaya Keerai Kuzhambu(Methi dal Curry)

Vendhaya Keerai or methi, was not a well known dish in my family, until a lot of people started having diabetes and became more aware of methi being a healthy green that aids in controlling blood sugar in diabetics. I guess it is more a North Indian green as opposed to a South Indian. But, this was back in the days. Nowadays, thanks to globalization, almost every veggie/fruit can be found in the local markets. Forget North/South India, I even saw fruits/veggies that are common here in Koyambedu market when I visited a couple of years back – strawberry, kiwi, zucchini etc.

That said, I always get requests from family members to give them recipes with methi(now readily available, even with the local lady who sells greens), so that they can include it easily in their diets. From what I have seen, they are not fans of North Indian curries such as Methi Mutter Malai, coss it involves adding cream to the dish as well. They prefer more something in the South Indian genre, and this recipe is one that fits perfectly. Spooned over rice, it is a comforting and healthy meal.

2 bunches methi leaves( I used half a pack of frozen methi)
1/4 cup toor dal
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup tamarind extract
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 tbsp gingelly oil
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp methi
1 sprig curry leaves

For spice paste:
1 tbsp channa dal
1 tbsp coriander seeds
4 red chillies
1/2 tsp cumin
1 carrot chopped

Rinse the toor dal, place it in a sauce pan with enough water to cover. Cook the toor dal until soft, but not mushy. It should still hold its shape. Set aside.

Dry roast the channa dal, coriander seeds, red chillies and cumin until toasted and fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool. Grind along with the chopped carrot and enough water to make a smooth paste. The carrot counter balances the bitterness from the methi and adds a sweet undertone to the kuzhambu, kind of like when you add a small piece of jaggery to pulikuzhambu/pulusu etc. Feel free to omit it if you dont like the sweet taste.

Heat oil in a pan, splutter the mustard and methi seeds. Add in the curry leaves onion and garlic. Saute until the onions and garlic and soft and translucent. Add the turmeric powder, salt and tomatoes. Saute again until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the spice paste and saute until the oil seperates. Add the methi leaves and saute until they wilt. Add the tamarind extract and bring to a boil. finally add the toor dal and simmer for about 5 minutes until all the flavors meld and come together.

Serve it hot spooned over rice…

Verdict: A very different kuzhambu with methi leaves, this has a slight bitterness from the methi leaves, perfectly countered by the sweetness from the carrot and the tartness from the tamarind. Made wholesome with the toor dal, that still has a bite to it, a wholesome healthy meal. I served this with cabbage poriyal.

Sending this to ‘Herbs and flowers – Fenugreek’ event, series by PJ of Seduce Your Tastebuds. Also sending the following archived entries to this event:
1. Tofu Methi Thepla, made with kasoori methi

2. Aloo methi masala, a slightly different variation from the traditional recipe.

3. Methi Mushroom Mutter Masala, with the addition of earthy mushrooms to the regular methi mushroom malai curry.

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