Vendhaya keerai a.k.a fresh methi a.k.a tender fenugreek stem with leaves, is very good for health, or so says my Mom ;-). She says it is a very good cooling agent and helps reduce body heat. My sisters and I never liked any dish where vendhaya keerai was the primary ingredient as we thought it would taste bitter, just like the fenugreek seeds. Although vendhaya keerai is slightly bitter, believe it or not, vendhaya keerai pappu does not even have a tinge of bitterness in it. Ever since I tasted this pappu, I have liked it and lately, have been making it at least once a month.
Ingredients (about 4 servings):
Vendhaya keerai - 2 small bunches cleaned and finely chopped
Tamarind soaked in water - about the size of a small lemon
(If using tamaring paste, about 1 teaspoon of it)
Toor dhal - 1/2 cup (using a measuring cup)
Sambar powder - 2 full teaspoons
Cooking oil - 3 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Green chillies - 2 slit
Dried red chilli - 1 split into half
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
1. Pressure cook toor dhal with 1.5 cups (using a measuring cup) of water and turmeric and set aside.
2. Extract about 2 cups of the juice of soaked tamarind or dilute the tamarind paste to yeild about 2 cups of juice and set aside.
3. In a deep vessel, heat some cooking oil, add mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. After they splutter, add urad dhal, asafoetida, slit green chillies and dried red chilli and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
4. Add the finely chopped vendhaya keerai after step 2 and fry for about 10 minutes on medium heat with CONSTANT strirring.
5. To the mixture in step 4, add the tamarind water, sambar powder and salt and bring it to a boil. Boil for about 10 more minutes on medium heat.
6. Add the pressure cooked toor dhal from step 1 to the boiling mixture from step 5 and boil for 5 more minutes with constant stirring lest the dhal may settle down and stick to the container.
7. Garnish with curry leaves. Vendhaya keerai pappu is ready to be served with hot rice and ghee :-).
The number of green chillies and dried red chillies that go into this dish can be varied to suit your taste.
After coming to the US, vendhaya keerai pappu has become a rarity, as the keerai itslef is available only in the Indian grocery stores. Hence, I sow fenugreek seeds in a small pot inside my apartment and harvest the tender stem with leaves after about 4 weeks :-).