There are some jobs in the kitchen that still need to be done the hard way. The labour-saving gadget that my husband craves the most is the auto-methi-leaf-picker™. Alas, modern science has yet to fulfil his needs. So I know that I’m going to get a few moans whenever I bring 3 or 4 bunches of green methi or fresh fenugreek home from the market. It does take a while to pick the soft tender leaves from the stalks, taking care to discard the bitter-tasting flowers. But this is what it takes to make the methi and chana dal stir fry we call methi chi bhaji / मेथीची भाजी
Once the leaves have been picked and rinsed it’s a very quick and easy dish to cook. The garlic and chillies are quickly fried before adding the methi leaves and dal and steaming with the lid on to cook through. Et voila!
Methi is somewhat bitter with sweet and intensely savoury notes. Its leaves and seeds lend their distinctive flavour to a variety of spice blends in Indian cuisine. But this is one of those dishes, like ‘sheepuchi bhaji’ aka dill, that turns a green herb into the main ingredient so that we can max out that flavour. To make it complete I add chana dal, that’s not overly cooked to lend the dish a contrasting texture.
Knowing the effort that goes into preparing it somehow makes us savour each morsel even more. Even my husband will admit that it’s well worth the trouble.
Fresh Fenugreek Stir-Fry / Methichi Bhaji / मेथीची भाजीCourse: MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Easy
300g fresh fenugreek (1 large bunch)
8-10 green chillies (chopped)
8-10 garlic cloves (coarsely pounded)
2 tbsp chana dal / split Bengal gram or chickpea lentils
60g (½ cup) roasted ground peanut
50ml sunflower oil
Salt to taste
60ml hot water (if needed)
- Pick the green leaves along with the tender thinner stalks from the fresh fenugreek bunch and collect in a bowl. Discard the thicker stalks and any flowers (they have a bitter taste). Rinse and drain thoroughly with cold water a couple of times. Do not drain water from the bowl after the final rinse. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a karahi or a deep pan over a medium flame.
- Throw in the green chillies and garlic and fry for a minute.
- Pick the rinsed fenugreek leaves and stalks from the bowl and drop the wet leaves straight into the hot pan.
- Stir in the chana dal and mix everything together.
- Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes over a low to medium flame. Add the hot water if needed.
- Tip in the roasted ground peanut and season with salt.
- Cover and cook again until the greens and lentils are cooked. Serve hot with bhakri or chapati