Monday, May 26, 2008

Aloo Methi and Methi in my Dal

aloo methi

I am having a choppy time, not physically but mentally. I always knew I was weird but then I thought everyone was in some way or other so that actually made me normal. Once I knew about hormones I was intelligent enough to assign my weirdness to them of course but the hubby thinks that is just taking advantage of the poor things. What does that have to do with blogging you might ask, nothing but it is just that there are days my interests take a dip and I don’t even want to open Blogger and so you don’t see me around. I still cook and eat though because that keeps me happy. Strange thing is I even take pics of all that food and not even download them. Real world friends (unaware of my blog persona) who happen to peek at them on my camera are convinced I am the weirdest.

Anyway, have you had days when you want go out and eat not because you want to eat something fancy or exotic but just because you are tired to whip up a simple homely meal and that is what you want to eat when you go out. You want to have a decent Indian every day meal and that does not mean a cream laden orange hued paneer butter masala paired with naan and a thick menacing Kali Dhaal. There is nothing wrong with these dishes and they have perfect right to be on the menu card but you go to an Indian restaurant (not a South Indian or Udupi restaurant) in one of USA’s 50 states and chances are you will only see variations of this on the menu.

Why can’t they serve phulkas I ask you, why should it always be Naan or Tandoori Roti ? And why can’t they have simple earthly dishes like alu-methi, bhindi bhaji, a simple toor dal flavored with garlic and red chillies along side the rich cousins? Am I the only one who wants to eat these stuff even if I am eating out or there is a market untapped? As it is there is no Bengali restaurant that I can hog at and there aren’t Indian ones that serve simple North Indian meals either, what is wrong with restaurateurs, I say.

Also the South Indian restaurants serve Thali with side dishes which I do not know the names of but taste like something you would have at a normal South Indian home too. Am I right? Are those dishes same as the ones you would cook for a weekly meal or are they typical special dishes too?

Disgusted with the restaurants and deciding to fend for myself I put the bunch of methi leaves from my Indian Grocery store to good use. I made a Aloo Methi ki Sabji and also added some of the methi leaves to my Dal. Served them with Brown rice cooked in water flavored with Cloves and Cardamom.

Aloo Methi

My Aloo Methi recipe is from here with some slight changes.

Finely pluck (a tedious job) and the wash about a bunch of methi or fenugreek leaves. Then chop them up. Peel and cut about 3 potatoes into small cubes. In a Kadhai/Frying Pan heat the ghee/oil. Temper with 1 tsp cumin seeds followed by half a clove of garlic finely chopped. Add the potatoes, salt, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, 3-4 green chilies and cook till the potatoes are cooked. Keep on stirring it so the potatoes do not get brown. After the potatoes are cooked add the methi (fenugreek) leaves and stir. The leaves will wilt in a couple of minutes. Add about ¼ tsp of Red Chilli Powder and ½ tsp of Kasuri Methi. Stir and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Serve hot.

Red Masoor Dal with Methi Leaves

I made a Red Masoor Dal exactly like my previous recipe here. After frying the onions and tomatoes I added the plucked and chopped methi leaves, sautéed for a couple of minutes and continued with the rest of the steps.

Plain Brown Rice

The Brown Rice, was hated by the husband unless it was a Fried rice he made or the Khichdi, but I am not the one to let go. So to make this rice I boil almost 3 times the water and flavor the water with a pinch of salt, Cardamom, Cloves and Bay Leaves. Cook the rice and drain the excess water. Now he likes the taste he says even if so at gun point.

Lastly Thanks Srivalli and Pooja for passing on such nice awards to me. I know, I know I am not doing tags either but I told you I am weird. For all you wonderful bloggers theres this wonderful music video from Shubha Mudgal featuring Nandita Das. And no I didn't make the video or music, I just loved both so sharing it with you guys.



  1. Hi Sandeepa, dear -- you're not the only one looking for good honest food in a restaurant -- that's how I found the blogs! Here we have so many recipes -- for real food -- we can hardly choose yes? But I know what you mean. I feel silly now in an Indian restaurant. "dal soup" huh? what is THAT? I have learned to ask -- do you have sambhar (etc) :)

    Near my work I recently found an Indian caterer who does takeout only lunches and dinners. If I could only convince this man that I can cook real Indian food, I would apply for a job :)

    Your methi spread is really gorgeous. I have to remember to save a container for that, and thanks for the reminder. Love fresh methi any day.

  2. Sweetie, you're just in the wrong place! Come to Dubai, you'll find many homely restaurants at arms length:)

    San, I didn't find an email on your blog, would you drop me a line?

  3. Yes, very rare to find homely food in rest, but your spread looks tasty Sandeepa!

  4. Aloo methi is one of my favorite dishes! Its so hard to find fresh methi here! Love the methi daal too, it adds a special flavor.

  5. Sandeepa - I found myself nodding at everything you wrote about. It's true that you can't find north Indian home food in a restaurant - I once asked a waiter if he can just bring me sookha aloo, not a gravy, and he looked at me like I was mad.
    And it is very true that you get south Indian food that is very home-cooked sort of. Infact, I think I make my food a little fancier than the restaurants as far as the south Indian is concerned. But when I thought about this, I realized that south Indian food doesn't involve too much masala (as in garam masala, coriander, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves...that sort of masala). Its pretty straight-forward and rice-based. So its more difficult to make it fancy for a restaurant.
    I too used to crave simple north Indian food (not being a huge fan of oily, buttery curries and dals). And I, too, used to end up cooking it at home most of the time.
    I think this is a HUGE untapped market.
    Sorry this comment became an essay...almost!!

  6. very true,..back here in singapore..i crave for sweets,..i avoid gng to restaurents,.as the preparation is quiet different of all the dishes,..ya sometimes due to emergency...theres noother option,..lovely post with delicious dishes,..;-)

  7. Hi! You write well and your recipes are really good.I share your view on the food we get when eating out. Believe me here everywhere you go ... even the smallest towns or villages ...everywhere u will find "Punjabi/Chinese/Tandoori/South Indian Available". It is hilarios sometimes....when u r looking for local cuisine and all you will get is Tandoori roti and a whole gamut of punjabi dishes names...thick, coloured gravy of god knows what.I have had this experience in the smallest of quiet villages of Konkan and Orissa when on trips.
    Have recently started blogging still very new.Do have a look at my blog and suggest/advise.

  8. Sorry did not leave my blog name is

  9. hey... i was giving stmts like.. haan .. exactly.. hain na... at every stmt of urs.. thats how it is .. and hey mite sound stupid .. but that veggie at the back isnt it patal.. i mean padwal..

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Aloo Methi is a favorite, kids love the aloo and the addition of methi or spinach makes it healthy and a bit of sambhar powder instead of chili powder,makes it South Indian ;)

    Exactly - I have a hard time explaining to people whose introduction to Indian food is only thorugh those dishes that Indian food is the most balanced and healthy :(

    I cant help but nod at whatever you have said, Sandeepa . I mean the dosas I eat at the local South Indian eatery are in no way similar to the ones Vidya's grandmom made , but we eat them, anyway .
    No you cannot get authentic home cooked food in commercial establishments . Even places like Kewpie's in Kolkata which used to serve good food has upped their glam quotient in keeping with their new popularity . So darling girl , for home cooked food tomakey nijer rannaghorey giye darun darun khabaar banatey hobey .
    Alu methi is a personal favourite –and I loved the variation with cumin seeds - but if the methi is fresh why do you want to add kasuri methi ?

    BTW I tried aam daal with motor daal following a recipe of yours tracked back from Quick Indian cooking ( oof what a circuitous route ) - it turned out even better than with red masoor dal .

    And on another note - we all have our ups and downs - so do cheer up and blog - I miss your posts when they don’t pop up on my sidebar !

  13. Last time I went to a Punjabi Indian restaurant, they didn't have Chole Bhatura!! Even south Indian Woodland's has one!! I don't even want to to Indian r anymore, boring.
    How is your free Monday? Relax and enjoy. I just got up early so I can catch up with blogs, once family gets up and ready, then we are off to have lunc, watch Indy and some more shopping!:D
    Arvind was on call for last 2 days, he is free today.
    Aloo Methi and dal looks wonderful, I will try your dishes. I have sowed some Methi seeds, waiting for those!:)

  14. Linda
    Ha ha I am sure if the caterer reads your blog, he has a job saved for you :)

    Really, Dubai has that ? I will mail you by today night, ok ?

    Thanks dear :)

    You don't get fresh methi there ? Maybe grow some then, I haven't but every food blogger is doing it looks like

    Ahhhhhhh found some one who agrees with me. Doesn't the same creamy, pil food get you at some point ? LLets team up and open one homely one :)
    B'lore had Queens which I really liked for this kind of food.

    Sweets are better, you get good ones but not the rest

    Welcome to blogging

    You are too intelligent. Yes you are right, coming in the next post ;-)

    I should do that with your sambhar powder, I did add it to potato masala like Anita and it was great

    Eves Lungs
    Hasn't things changed in Kolkata these days ? There are so many Bengali places to eat "maach-bhaat", though on my last visit I didn't find time to go to the new ones, only went to Sonar Bangla.
    When I was younger I would never want to eat "aloo posto" while eating out, there was Ma for that, but now :-)

    Even Sarvana Bhawan here has Chole Bhature, that surprised me but the other food was pretty good. There were some dishes (as part of a Thali) I tried, are they the same you have at home ?
    Saw Indiana Jones on Sat, today we might take kiddo to the Crayola Factory

  15. Absolutely true - I crave "nourishing" food too - which is hard to find.

    Much love and good wishes,

  16. This is one reason i don't go to Indian restaurants here.
    When ever i went i was so disapointed, that i don't go any more.

  17. You are so right, San! The fare in any North Indian retaurant is the same - oily and/or creamy & same ol' dishes. I have not really enjoyed the fare at most South Indian restaurants either. The thalis have the simple home-made feel but are not really tasty. The only one I have really enjoyed is Hoysala in Somerset (not thali, but their buffet is great). Your thali looks awesome! I was laughing out loud when I read your "weird" paragraph. I totally blame mine on hormones too! :)

  18. that plate looks so tempting sandeepo!..and yeah its not the case there...even here its the same!..I mean south indian food you get the regular..but the north indian stuff is always the greasy..buttery stuff!

  19. There are some non fancy ones on Freeschool Street catering mostly to Bangladeshis but the cuisine is authentic - good for takeaways.

  20. if i open my big mouth once, u will realize that i am double weirder than u and crazy!!!!
    btw, i need some more rice...thats not enough for me with all that yummy simple spread :)

  21. Hi Sandeepa, you are so right about Indian restaurant food: I have stopped eating that creamy orange stuff for sometime now and have opted for other ethnic food (thai,vietnamese). I do crave simple and real Indian food...bangali khabar to pawa impossible. Baritei banate hobe.

    Don't worry about feeling weird and take your time. Its your blog after all and there are weirder specimen around (ahem..that's me ;) ). But we do love you and your posts.

    I like methi, but I tend to use the dry one (kasoori) which is hassle free to use. I made besan-chilla kasoori methi, pepper, onion,tomato yesterday. Tumi ekhane ele tomay khaoabo.

  22. Sandeepa -- When you come to Boston, please visit this rest.
    Give me a buzz and I would love to join you.

    I ate Tak er dal there, came searching for a recipe and found your blog. Last nite, I made the dish as per your recipe and it was excellent. Thank you.

    And sorry. Many of the dishes in a south Indian thali are of indeterminate origin also! Nothing like what we eat at home or in a restaurant back home!

  23. that's a nice post, Sandeepa! Lovely thali too.

    I don't have anything to comment on the Indian restaurants. I agree with you on this.

  24. and sometimes the restaurant food is just better as in masala dosas vs home dosas.That is the bright side :-). Check out this story:

  25. hey sandeepa,
    yes, true , very true , after a while you just do not feel like cooking...and want to have something nice and simple...
    Here it rained heavily, the sky was overcaast through out.
    So i made our Bengali mooger daler khichuri with beguni and potol bhaga.
    enjoyed it and so did my 2 and a half year old.
    the pics on your blog are too good..infact apetising..ummmm!

  26. Long Time no see (on my part, however).

    Looks like Potol-er-torkari!

    Btw, mom is here, so Bengali food all the time as well as new recipes. And probably will learn how to cut mocha :)

  27. You are in US! Imagine my sadness when I could not find good local food in a resort in Dandeli. They had all kinds of exotic dishes that did not taste as good as they should have. I would have relished the local idlis but I suppose that isn't an exotic dish:) Loved your post and the pics as usual:)

  28. Aloo Methi looks so good. Loved the pics. YUM!...

  29. Never tried anything with methi,this looks yummy.Will try it.

  30. Made aloo methi yesterday...great looking thali urs.I am sure all of us go thru these crazy days whether due to the hormones that keep playing tricks or just soemthing else its all part of the game. I am sure sometimes not being able to find ur fav home food can really be frustrating especially on a day when u don't feel like cooking.

  31. Sandeepa,
    looks like I would differ on this ,I really dont mind going to Restaurant as for me its always a welcome change ...I love my break from cooking ....LOL...
    But I would prefer home cooked meals over Restraurant foods ..

    that Plate looks so yummm ....
    Potoler dalna baniye cho ki?

    hugs and smiles

  32. yep millet as in raagi too...raagi, bajra all part of the millet family!..

  33. I completely understand what you mean abt wanting to go out when you don't feel like cooking. It would be awesome to see more restaurants carry homey food, too! Your dishes look delicious, Sandeepa! :)

  34. Its ok to be weird, Sandeepa. I need company :D

  35. hey darling, i am glad to know i have a company here ;) i feel the same abt restarents serving fancy foods but no comfort food. but recently we found one small gujju place which serves the best comfort food. everything abt it was so homely and we have become regular visitors now:)
    aloo methi and methi dal is my fav too. and i am having methi dal with jeera rice today:)

  36. sandeepa..i think the main reason all the indian joints do not serve simple yet delicious food is the food which come in various colors..they get away by adding fat and creamy pastes to bring in a hint of flavor. But when you cook dal or simple alu-bhaji..the ingredient takes the center stage..and that is a daunting task for them!!...

  37. Can you please post the recipe of that gravy sabzi ? Pretty Please ?

  38. There's atleast some comfort in the fact that you are in a different country and not able to find Indian food...imagine how we felt when we took my visiting BIL to a resort in Chennai only to be told that they served no South Indian food - only Continental/Chinese/North Indian fancy stuff....

  39. DelhiBelle
    I will post it by next week, it is potato & parwal

  40. I found myself agreeing to everything you said!!!

    There is however an Indian grocery store close by which makes simple North Indian fare- most importantly phulkas!!!..2 years back- when I moved here (SoCal) I was soooo thrilled to hear of this place..However, having done that pace to death, I no longer feel like eating

    I subsequently found another more 'restaurant-like' place which actually serves a mean bhindi sabji and will on request provide you with 'tava roti'..Needless to say its one of my favourite Indian restaurants here- even their heavier naans etc..are not so heavy..

    As for South Indian fare- I have found only one restaurant that comes close to home cooked food- so I have started cooking more South Indian khana at home...but yes, it is true that atleast south Indian food served in restaurants isn't scaled in richness and heaviness , like its north Indian counterparts
    I really craavee Bangalore's benne masala dosas and since that is my gold standard for dosas, its not surprising that i haven't found too many 'dosa-serving' places that please me..:)

    *off to look at your aloo methi recipe..Phew that was a long comment!

  41. I just read some of the comments and i agree with you on Queens, Sandeepa- nice, sada north Indian fare..yum!

  42. the aloo dish looks nice and simple

  43. Hi Sandeepa ... No updates in a while ? There is an award waiting for you on my blog. Do check it out..

  44. Hi! Sandeepa...I tried your recipe, it is very delicious and easy to cook. I am also a bong mom and I want to share my recipes.Do visit my recipe blog and let me knowhow you liked it. Thanx again....

  45. Like many others, I totally understand where you're coming from. I'm still learning how to cook Bangla/Indian foods and sometimes wish there were more "home-style" restaurants so that I can compare my efforts to what it should taste like.

    If you ever are in the Atlanta area, there is a good Bangladeshi restaurant here called Panahar. They do lunch buffets during the week -- they have the typical tandoori and nan, but they also have the best vegetable dishes. They taste just like home-made. The owner makes a point of saying that most places won't serve stuff like this.

    Anyway, that's enough of my babbling! I love coming to look at all the yumminess on your blog. Please feel free to visit mine --

  46. Hi Sandeepa,
    I just happened to stumble upon your blog, while searching for Bengali recepies having 'mulo'. Wow, you have done an amazing job! It is especially commendable being able to do this while having a small child. I admire that, having an eight year old, and an eleven month old myself. I will try the chicken balls soon (from one of your older blogs), and look forward to coming back to your site to get more ideas.
    Good luck!

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  48. I love Aloo Methi. This one looks delicious.


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