June 17, 2013

Menthya Kattina Saaru | A rustic fenugreek-lentil broth from Karnataka

Nature offers us such a vibrant food palette – from deep greens of Spinach to Orange-yellows of Squash to fuchsia pink of beetroot, its a riot of colour on our plate. And a wonderful way to celebrate that is to dedicate one colour per day to a dish through one of the themes of Blogging Marathon. This week, I shall bring you three colours of nature presented through food. Feast to the eyes, shall we say ? Check out other marathoners here.

So, lets get to see the colour green in all its vibrancy in today’s dish – Menthya Kattina Saaru.
Today’s dish is rustic in its approach, but divine in taste. Translating this dish from the native Kannada “Menthya Kattina Saaru” would mean Fenugreek Broth... but that doesn’t do justice. For those brought up in the Bangalore and / or Karnataka, Kattina Saaru (the essence of the lentils along with the sautéed fenugreek) is bliss, and this is one hallmark dish of both grandmom and mom. Naturally, I love it to bits, and so does sis. The essence of this Saaru (or Rasam / thickish broth) is that masala with a generous hint of asafoetida teamed with earthy flavours of fresh coriander and cumin seeds and lots of freshly grated coconut.

And the best part, like Kuzhambus (or thick gravies) is that this tastes great the next day, which is precisely the reason why I ask mom to make double the quantity so that I could have it the next day too

Goes very well with sautéed greens (use Fenugreek / Agathikeerai) , hot rice and a dollop of ghee J Similarly pairs well with Ragi Mudde (steamed Finger Millet Dumplings). For that complete meal, end with a glass of spicy buttermilk and you would know what I am talking about.

Also linking to event happening at my space – Healthy Me, Healthy Us

Prep time : 20 mins | Cook time : 20 mins | Serves : 4
Difficulty level : Medium | Spice level : Medium
Serving suggestions : Hot Steamed rice or Ragi Mudde (Finger Millet dumplings)

Tips /Notes : Fenugreek leaves (methi) works best for this dish. Do not substitute withe spinach or any other greens. A great medicinal substitute and with exactly the same procedure would be Agathi Keerai (Agathi Soppu or Sesbania Grandiflora). Only with Agathi Keerai, you might want to add a little more jaggery as the leaves are quite bitter, but they make a brilliant dish.

  • Fenugreek leaves – 2 large bunches (or once sorted – 6-7 large cups)
((the amount of fenugreek might baffle you, but trust me it shrivels quite a bit)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Toor Dal – ½ cup – soaked in hot water for 20 mins
  • Turmeric – ½ TBSP
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Jaggery – ½ TBSP
  • Tempering : Oil, mustard seeds, Red chillies (broken)

Masala paste:
  • Fresh coconut – ½ cup
  • Tamarind – a tiny roundel
  • Red chillies – 3 (adjust spice)
  • Cumin seeds – ½ TBSP
  • Raw Rice – ½ TBSP
  • Coriander seeds – 2 TBSP
  • Hing / Asafoetida – a generous pinch

1) Pick sort,wash and chop the fenugreek leaves. If using frozen, thaw till it reaches room temperature.
2) In 2 tsp of oil, roast all ingredients of the masala paste except coconut and keep aside. The
In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add the turmeric and the soaked dal. Once the dal is half cooked, add the fenugreek leaves and boil till the dal is done (it should flatten out in your fingers, but not be mushy).
3) Drain the water well and retain both the leaves-dal as well as the water. Mash the mixture slightly so that all water drains out.
4) Once the dal-leaves mixture is cooled, take 2 ladlefuls of it, and along with the coconut and the roasted ingredients of the masala, make a smooth paste. Reserve the rest of the dal-mixture as it is.
5) In a wok, heat oil and prepare the tempering. Once the chillies slightly sizzle, add the ground paste, salt & jaggery. Saute for 2 – 3 mins, add the rest of the dal water now. Let the mixture simmer on low-medium flame for 6 – 9 mins till it thickens a bit (the rice and the coriander in the masala paste will help it do so).
6) Once a nutty,earthy aroma comes. Switch off the stove and transfer to a serving bowl. Add a dollop of ghee and close the lid.
7) With the remaining cooked dal-leaves mixture, prepare a dry curry exactly like this curry. Temper with mustard, fresh coconut and asafoetida
8) Serve the Rasam and sautéed greens for a wholesome healthy experience !


  1. Very healthy dish Kalyani and I love the green on the brown as well..:)

  2. Very refreshing and yummy dal rasam.

  3. Very delicious and authentic recipe.. looks great!!

  4. Very healthy saaru :) I wud love to have some, but sadly I do not get methi leaves here :( And I love the way u have written the intro !! I felt like having the entire meal menu that u had said ;) Slurp !!

  5. That is one flavorful healthy saaru! Btw, even I have menthi recipe lined up for today.

  6. Very healthy and definitely a flavourful saaru.

  7. loving this variety of rasam never seen before

  8. Welcome back Kalyani...missed you...and your typical signature recipes. Saaru looks great.

  9. Great one my mom use to do similar kind but without toordal bookmarking.

  10. Such a lovely saaru! A very different preparation :)

  11. Lovely chaaru. Delicious

  12. Healthy & comforting saaru..

  13. New to me kalyani.I love fenugreek leaves and prepare kootu and use it with aloo in curries. Must try this one.

  14. Sounds very new to me Kalyani. But nonetheless a healthy version!


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