Monday, July 11, 2011

Menthya Bele Huli

No. No mistake here about the title of the post. I mean its not supposed to be Floating Curry Leaves In Lentils or something like that. Its goes by the name you see here. It was just badly salivating me in a real real hurry to click the pics before I ate and ran out for a crazy day of shopping. Though this does look like it was taken right on my dining table in the midst of a meal (sheepish) it really was not. Forgive me again for the pics, but I had to tell you about this Huli or sambar  which tastes real real good. Its called Menthya Bele Huli, meaning Fenugreek and Lentils Sambar.

I had in fact not really heard of or tasted this huli till I got married. I got married into a family who have been entrepreneurs since the past 3 generations - something not all that common in our community. We are more the get your education, find a job community. I was not really ready for the implications of marrying into an entrepreneurial set up. I would not have really taken much notice of it if it did not have a direct impact on where it matters a LOT to me. You guessed it. Food!!! Not the food per se, but the erratic work timings and the consequent time at which we ate our meals. I was and am used to eating food pretty early and on time with my father being a lecturer in college, fixed working hours etc. My parents made special effort to ensure I had my meals never got delayed. At the cost of being repetitive and boring, nothing irritates me more than being on an empty stomach for long.

To cut the story short, we were just married and at in-laws place in our home town. Father-in-law owns a home appliances store. Hubby is an entrepreneur too, though in a very different set up. He would go with my father-in-law to the store every morning. No complaints (yep, am lying through my teeth:-)), but what really rubbed salt into the wounds was he would EAT and go!!!. But of course I was too new to ask when I would get to eat. By the time I would eat with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law a little later, I would be ready to eat a horse!  Pacing  around with a grumpy face, allowing my loudly growling tummy to be heard over the din of the wedding household, would hardly make me the best new congenial daughter-in-law . Smile, be pleasant with the rest of the new clan - on a wildly rumbling stomach!. Ears perpetually strained for the sound of metal on wood. At last! heard it - ah Music!! No utensils and ladles actually, clinks and clanks. Hurray!!  But hey, remember, I am a new bride. No running to the table. Wait to be called. Wait till all the plates and all the dishes are served. Then wait politely for the others to start. Then eat as pleasantly and as slowly fast (fast but slow enough) as good table manners permit. Second servings - fine, but a third - will they think they have got a glutton for a DIL (which I am not if I eat on time)? Tough job man!!

One such day, hungry me was at the table with mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Waiting for the meal, trying hard not to sniff the aroma laden air too loud. The menu on that day included Methya Bele Huli. ????. Well....ahem... Mother-in-law informed that this is a family favorite. I could see fenugreek seeds here and there, in fact, plenty of them in the sambar. So many bitter fenugreek seeds in an otherwise perfectly good and  tasty huli? What on earth!!! It was not bitter by any means, but I kept fishing out the seeds trying not to make it too conspicuous. I ate it, though I did not relish it hugely. Since then, I have eaten this dish innumerable times in the past dozen years of marriage and now its one of my favorites too! Supposedly made in the Madhwa Mutts for the evening meal, this particular huli has no vegetables in it, only a generous amount of methi seeds and the rest of the ingredients which go into a sambar. Its definitely not bitter. Extremely aromatic and very tasty, it makes a fabulous accompaniment to rice, particularly on days you run out of veggies. Aralu sandige (kind of deep-fried crisps) and hot oil are ideal to go with this huli.

This recipe is from my mother-in-law, who is a very good cook. She is with us for a few days and I had wanted her to make this while I noted down the details. For the blog and so that hubby now can't complain that I can't make huli like her ;-)

Basically, the fenugreek seeds are sauteed in oil and cooked with some water. The rest of the ingredients like sambar powder, seasoning and cooked dal are added later. You could also add uncooked dal after the methi seeds are added, so that both cook together. The quantity of  tamarind pulp and jaggery can be varied to suit your taste. Sambar powder is different in each household according to the amount of red chillies and spices that go into it. So use it as much as you normally would if you make sambar.Take care not to overcook the lentils as it needs to be cooked, but not mushy, the grains of the dal add to the texture. Again, I would like to say, this huli is not bitter, just aromatic and delicious.

Here goes the recipe.
Toor dal - 3/4 cup
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tablespoon
Tamarind pulp - 2 tablespoons
Sambar powder - as needed
Grated fresh coconut - 1/2 cup
Hing - a generous pinch
Turmeric - a pinch
Jaggery - 1/2 tablespoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves - A whole big sprig, plus more for tempering
Salt to taste

For the tempering 
Oil- 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Hing - a pinch
Curry leaves -  a few
Method: Wash and pressure cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric using a little less water than you would normally use. The dal needs to be cooked, but not mushy or over cooked.
Heat one tablespoon oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add hing and the methi seeds. Saute, let the seeds turn a nice golden brown, do not let them turn dark. Add  the tamarind pulp, the sprig of curry leaves and about a cup of water and cook till the seeds are soft and cooked.
Take the grated fresh coconut and the sambar powder in a small bowl. Add about 2 tablespoons of water and squeeze the grated coconut and sambar powder till the coconut releases its milk. Add this to the simmering methi mixture. Add jaggery, the cooked dal and salt to taste. Add water if needed, but easy here. The huli needs to be thicker than your normal huli or sambar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Take off the heat. Fish out the sprig of curry leaves - its done its job of releasing its aroma.

Heat a teaspoon or two of oil. Add the mustard seeds, allow to splutter. Add the curry leaves and hing. Pour on the huli. Serve with hot rice, crisps. Don't forget to top your rice with a teaspoon of oil for the extra yumm factor.

We all have our amusing stories related to food during the early days of marriage. Would love to hear your story!


Sum said...

Hey Suma! I too love this huLi... mom used to make it, but haven't had now for quite some time.... got to make it.... i can smell the aroma through the pics :)
Only difference is mom used to cook dal and methi together... I guess your method will make it more aromatic...
Coming to the new-bride and food stories, well there are many from me too! Will share them sometime in my blog...

M D said...

Entering a now household as a DIL is not an easy task, I agree. Reading your long, but rather interesting post brought back dozens of my memories as a new wed DIL. And the food lover that I am too, my nose also peeked up to the aromas that came from the new kitchen :D

Menthe BeleHuli looks tempting. You should share a few more Madhwa cuisine on your blog, I always look forward to them. Have tried ur Muddipalya and I love it. BTW, Muttha oota makes me drool now! YUM YUM!!!

sangeeta said...

Hi ...first time here and huli is a new word for me . Liked the generous methi in it...i am gonna try it for sure.

chef and her kitchen said...

We make something similar to this and the whole family loves it very much...looks yumm

Indian Khana said...

Looks so delicious with that lovely colour

Zareena said...

Looks very yummy and delicious. Nice red colour.

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

thats one wonderful post Suma, this is a new preparation for me but am definitely gonna try this. I love the flavour of methi seeds so I know am gonna love it.

Prema said...

Wow!!! huli luks delicious...Very tempting.

Deepthi Shankar said...

I love this huli .. Its a favorite at our place too & I love all the bitterness from menthya .. YUMMY

Bharathy said...

Methi has the power to turn any curry flavorful and much tasty!
My husband would love this and i will sure lay my hands soon on it, Suma :)

Unknown said...

wow, I don't know how they should be, but the pic is awesome and so very tempting, the color says it all :)

Rajani said...

Wow, I think there is a similar sambar in Tamil brahmin cuisine too, guess it's called vendaya sambar, remember a realtive making it looong back. Attractive pics.

sweet Artichoke said...

first, I really like the name of the dish, the idea of floating curry leaves sounds really nice! Second, this looks absolutely delicious! (I'm a big fan of fenugreek!!)

Tulasi Janaki said...

Hello Suma

I made this the day I read it onyour blog....I could not beleive Methi seeds can be so aromatic & yet not make the sambar sour. It was really very yummy.

My hubby said he can eat it many more times...which is a real compliment. he usually does not comment :)
Thanks so much for sharing the it with us

Uthra said...

I am a TamBrahm, and both my grandmothers are from Pudukottai in TN. There is a very similar version of sambar called Pudukottai sambar, where the only difference is we forego the sambar powder and add only a few red chillies broken into pieces, and methi seeds to the tadka; like you've said, the sambar needs to be a bit thicker than normal, and it tastes divine!