Methi Dal (Fenugreek with Lentils)

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Methi dal is a delicious, healthy and comforting dish made with fresh fenugreek leaves, pigeon pea lentils, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. The vast Indian cuisine has this recipe made in different ways. I share a North Indian style of this dish. But one of the well-known variation is from Andhra cuisine and known as Menthi Kura Pappu that is made with different combinations of herbs and spices. This methi dal makes for a nutritious meal paired with roti, paratha or steamed rice or cumin rice. A vegan dish.

methi dal served in a white bowl with a spoon

In Indian vegetarian cuisine we combine various greens with lentils. They can be made into a sauteed dry dish or like a lentil curry. E.g. Dal Palak or Shepu Bhaji.

This is one such recipe of combining the goodness of fenugreek leaves and lentils. Dal is a staple at home thus I make various unique dishes with them so that the family does not get bored with lentils.

In this recipe, I have used tuvar dal (pigeon pea lentils), but you can also make this dal methi with moong lentils, masoor dal and chana dal (bengal gram/split chickpea). You can also use a combination of two to three lentils.

The slight bitterness of the fenugreek leaves gets balanced with the subtle sweetness of the pigeon pea lentils (arhar dal). If the fenugreek you get is too bitter, then just sprinkle some salt and keep it aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Squeeze the leaves and then rinse them in water. Then add these leaves to the tempering.

I feel this is a good way to include greens in your diet and make your simple dal or curry more nutritious and healthy. Many times I add fresh greens like spinach, fenugreek, dill leaves, kale, malabar spinach and amaranth to various lentils.

You can serve methi dal with rice, roti or chappati along with raita, salad, masala papad and some pickle.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Methi Dal

Cooking lentils

1. Pick, rinse 1 cup arhar dal (tuvar dal or pigeon pea lentils) a couple of times in fresh water.

rinsing arhar dal in water

2. Add the rinsed lentils + ½ teaspoon turmeric powder + 2.5 cups water in a 3 litre pressure cooker.

You can also cook the lentils in a pan or in the Instant pot using required amount of water.

arhar dal turmeric and water added to pressure cooker

3. Pressure cook the lentils on medium to medium-high heat for 8 to 10 whistles or more till the lentils are cooked thoroughly and softened. 

When the pressure settles down naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid. Mash the lentils lightly with a spoon or wired whisk and keep aside.

pressure cooked arhar dal in a spoon

4. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan. When the oil becomes medium hot, then add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and allow them to splutter.

You can also use ghee instead of oil for a richer taste and aroma. 

splutter cumin in oil in a pan

5. Then add 1 small to medium-sized onion (finely chopped), ½ inch ginger (finely chopped), 5 to 6 garlic (finely chopped or crushed) and 2 to 3 green chilies (slit or sliced).

add onion ginger garlic and green chilies to the pan

6. Next add 1 to 2 dry red chilies (halved and seeds removed). Saute stirring often till the onions become translucent.

add dry red chilies and saute onions till translucent

7. Then add 1 small to medium-sized tomato (finely chopped).

tomatoes added to mixture

8. Stir and mix very well.

mix tomatoes with the mixture

9. Add ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). Stir and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.

To make it gluten-free omit adding asafoetida or use the one packaged as gluten-free asafoetida.

add red chili powder and asafoetida

10. Then add 1 cup tightly packed fresh fenugreek or methi leaves (chopped).

add fenugreek leaves to the mixture

11. Stir and mix very well.

mix methi leaves with the mixture

12. Saute the whole mixture, till the fenugreek leaves wilt and you see oil releasing from the sides of the pan.

saute the methi leaves mixture

13. Then add the cooked arhar dal.

add cooked dal to the pan

14. Add 1 to 1.25 cups water. You can add less or more water as per the consistency you want in the methi dal. If you want a thick dal, then skip adding water and just mix the dal with the rest of the tempering mixture.

add water to the pan

15. Then add salt as required.

add salt to the pan

16. Stir very well and simmer the dal for 7 to 8 minutes.

simmer methi dal for 7 to 8 minutes

17. Lastly add ½ teaspoon garam masala powder and mix well again. Check the taste and add more salt if required.

garam masala powder added to methi dal

18. Serve methi dal hot or warm with some steamed rice or soft chapatis or paratha.

methi dal served in a white bowl with a spoon

More tasty dal recipes for you:

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Methi Dal

4.89 from 18 votes
This dal methi is a delicious, healthy and comforting North Indian style dal made with fresh fenugreek leaves, pigeon pea lentils, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Cuisine Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For pressure cooking lentils

  • 1 cup arhar dal (tuhar dal or pigeon pea lentils) or 200 grams arhar dal
  • 2.5 cups water for pressure cooking the lentils
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)

For tempering methi dal

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ inch ginger – finely chopped
  • 5 to 6 garlic – finely chopped or crushed
  • 2 to 3 green chilies – slit
  • 1 to 2 dry red chilies – deseeded and broken
  • 1 small to medium tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh fenugreek or methi leaves – chopped
  • 1 to 1.25 cups water to be added later
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • salt as required

Instructions

Pressure cooking lentils

  • Pick, rinse arhar dal (pigeon pea lentils) a couple of times in fresh water. Drain all the water.
  • Add the rinsed lentils, turmeric powder and water in 3 litre pressure cooker. You can also cook them adding water as required in a pan or Instant pot.
  • Pressure cook the lentils on medium to medium high heat for 8 to 10 whistles or more till the lentils are cooked thoroughly and softened.
  • When the pressure settles down naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid. Mash the lentils lightly with a wired whisk or spoon and keep aside.

Making methi dal

  • In a small frying pan, heat oil. Keep the heat to medium. Add the cumin seeds and fry them till they crackle.
  • Then add onions, garlic, ginger, red chilies and green chilies.
  • Saute for a couple of minutes stirring often till the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes, asafoetida, red chili powder and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the chopped methi leaves. Saute till the methi leaves wilt and oil leaves the sides of the mixture,
  • Pour this mixture in the dal or add the cooked dal to this tempering mixture.
  • Add water and salt as required. You can add water depending upon the consistency you want.
  • Stir very well and simmer the dal for 7 to 8 minutes more.
  • Lastly add garam masala powder and mix well. Check the taste and add more salt if needed.
  • Serve dal methi steaming hot with steamed rice or cumin rice or roti or paratha.

Notes

  • Use fresh and tender methi leaves. If the fenugreek leaves are very bitter then first chop them. Rub and mix some salt on them and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Squeeze these leaves to remove the bitter juices. Rinse with water once and then drain any extra water. Now you can use them in the recipe. 
  • For the lentils you can use a variety like chana dal, masoor dal, moong dal, arhar dal or a mix of any of these. Just remember the cooking time will vary. E.g. chana dal will take more time to cook than other lentils.
  • This is not a spicy version. To make it spicy add more red chili powder or green chilies.
  • For a richer and fragrant methi dal include ghee instead of oil.
  • To enjoy the dal for its best flavor and taste eat it hot after it is prepared. On cooling or resting the consistency will thicken and the taste also changes.

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Methi Dal
Amount Per Serving
Calories 277 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Sodium 415mg18%
Potassium 156mg4%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 371IU7%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 4µg4%
Calcium 283mg28%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 10µg3%
Iron 3mg17%
Magnesium 13mg3%
Phosphorus 26mg3%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Methi Dal recipe post from the blog archives (first published in August 2013) has been updated and republished on July 2021.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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32 Comments

  1. I have been making dal fry using kasturi methi since ages and it tastes like heaven. Once you taste dal fry having kasturi methi in it, you won’t ever like to have a simple dal fry. At my home, dal fry is something that is always made with kasturi methi.. otherwise it’s not eaten by anyone.5 stars

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