This year, I have menthya growing in multiple containers on the deck to be harvested at different times, smart yeh? There is so much difference in the freshness and flavor of a home grown menthya soppu and a store bought bunch. It is easy to grow menthya in containers and you do not have to fret for not having a backyard vegetable patch. Make sure you take a pot of atleast a foot and half depth so the roots can grow into the soil. If your pot is not deep enough, the roots will get squiggly and go all around the soil horizontally which makes them stringy to bite. Deeper pots ensure the roots go in and you can pull them up easily and chop the ends. The sprouts show up on 4th day if the weather is warm enough and continues to grow. You can harvest tender and flavorful menthya leaves in 2.5-3 weeks.
Back to today's recipe, matvadi palya or maatoti palya (as we called it when we were kids) is an easy to prepare dry curry that goes well with your rotis/chapatis or rice. I follow nammamma's suit and make a yogurt based gravy such as raita or majjige huli to make a complete meal. The palya can be eaten just by itself which is what I love do :-)
What do you need to make Menthya matvadi palya?
1 cup toor dal/togari bele
2 cups chopped fresh menthya soppu/fenugreek leaves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
3-4 green chilies (adjust to suit your spice tolerance)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tsp grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 Tsp cooking oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida
3-4 curry leaves
1 red chili broken into 2-3 pieces
How do you make Menthya matvadi palya?
- Soak toor dal in 3 cups of water for 1.5 - 2 hours.
- Wash, drain the soaked toor dal.
- Take the drained toor dal, green chilies and ginger into a blender/chopper and pulse them to a coarse paste. Use 1-2 Tsp of water if needed for the blender to operate - See notes.
- Clean menthya leaves thoroughly and chop them discarding the root ends.
- Add salt, coconut and chopped menthya soppu to the ground mixture and mix well.
- The mixture needs to be steamed until the dal cooks. I use my presssure pan, with water at the bottom and a pan containing the dal-greens mixture in it.
- Steam it (no weight if you are using pressure cooker) for 20 minutes, switch off, take the pan out and let it come to room temperature.
- Using your fingers or a fork, break the cooked mixture up and fluff it up.
- In a wide pan, heat a Tsp of oil, add mustard, asafoetida, red chili pieces and curry leaves. When mustard splutters, add the cooked mixture in and give it a good mix.
- Let it roast on low heat for 5 minutes before taking it off the heat. Serve it piping hot with rice or rotis.
- I use my Indian mixie/grinder in pulse mode for this and do not use water while grinding - use small portions to allow the mixie to do its job.
- The toor dal needs to break down but not become a paste, so take care not to grind for long.
- You can use your idli stand and place small balls of the dal-greens mixture for steaming in it.
- Use fresh, tender menthya leaves and feel free to load it with extra leaves in this recipe.
- There is no onion, garlic in this recipe. Remember it is the menthya soppu in the limelight and do not over crowd it with ingredients.