Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Channe di Daal Te Methi (Split Chickpea Daal & Fenugreek)


Methi (fenugreek) is a plant with three small oblong leaflets that is grown in many countries around the world in semi-arid climates, especially in South Asia. It is grown all across western and northern India, with Rajasthan alone producing 80% of India’s output.

Used from ancient times, methi has been known for its medicinal qualities to soothe digestive problems, help control blood sugar, reduce diabetes and cholesterol and now as an ingredient in some medicines.

The leaves of the plant are relished for their bitterness and sweet aroma that add extra flavor to the foods they are mixed with. It is labor intensive to pick and clean the leaves and so is now widely available in dried form in sealed packets. The dried leaves are also used as a spice for flavoring other dishes.

Methi is used in making pickles, daals (lentils), paranthas and vegetable dishes, but by far the most widely used and popular dish, as least in the Punjab, is aaloo methi (sautéed potatoes and fenugreek).

Channe di dal (split chickpea lentils) is produced by removing the outer layer of black chickpeas and then splitting the kernel. Although machines can do this, it can be done at home by hulling or soaking the whole chickpeas and removing the loose skins by rubbing. Many people mistakenly believe that channa daal comes from large white chickpeas or garbanzos. Hulling helps to improve digestibility, but it affects the nutrition provided by the dish by reducing dietary fiber content.



1 cup channa dal (split channa lentil)
2 medium bundles of methi (fenugreek) or use two packets of dried methi
1 tbsp olive oil
Spices to taste: lal mirch (red pepper); namak (salt); haldi (turmeric)



1. Place the channa dal in a bowl, wash it thoroughly in cold water, let it soak overnight.
2. In the morning, drain the water. Place the dal with 4 cups of water in a pot, add some haldi and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let it sit.
3. Meanwhile, open the methi bundles and pick off the top portion of each stem with the leaves. Discard the rest of the stems.
4. Place the picked leaves and tops in a strainer and wash thoroughly to remove any dirt. Let stay for the water to drip.
5. Coat a pan with oil over medium heat, then put in the methi and cover to let the methi shed water.
6. When the methi is dried, add the boiled channa daal and add salt and pepper. Stir and leave on the heat for 5 minutes to evaporate any remaining water. Then cover and cook for 5 minutes.  
7. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 more minutes, then turn the heat off.
8. Serve with hot roti and any other vegetable dish.




Methi (fenugreek) is a vegetable which has a strong aroma and taste and doesn’t require too many spices or other ingredients like onions of garlic to enhance its flavor. When it is sold in bundles, it comes with long stems and even roots, so it has to be carefully washed, cleaned and the leaves removed in a time consuming task.

These days, cleaned and dry methi leaves are sold in large plastic bags and can be kept in the pantry for a long time. It can easily be used to make a quick aloo methi (potatoes fenugreek) or gajjar methi (carrots fenugreek) dish or with raita (thinned yogurt). All you need to do is liberally sprinkle it over the potatoes or carrots and let it cook in their steam. 


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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes