Indian Lentil Soup with Fenugreek (Methi Dal) – Guest Post Recipe

Indian Lentil Soup with Fenugreek (Methi Dal)

Today I want to bring you a recipe from my friend Sala Kannan, who writes the wonderful Veggie Belly. I think Sala has a great looking blog, with delicious vegetarian recipes that reflect a global sensibility. Her recent post on how to make the perfect dosa and idli at home blew my mind. I invited her to write a guest post because I thought you would all enjoy getting to know her, so please do jump over there and check it out.

When Michael invited me to guest post on Herbivoracious, I wanted to bring you a simple, yet delicious and satisfying recipe. Dal and rice is a humble, comforting, every day meal in India. I grew up eating a wide range of dals (lentils), but my favorite is a mild red dal with a little fresh fenugreek or baby spinach stirred in.

Fenugreek Fenugreek, also called methi in India, is a beautiful herb with a pleasantly bitter taste and a ton of medicinal properties. The little leaves wilt easily, so all you have to do is stir the fenugreek into the dal in the last few minutes of cooking.

Fresh fenugreek is available in Indian and Asian stores. Substitute with 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek or 1 cup spinach, or both. You can use any kind of lentils in this recipe, I love the color and texture of red lentils for this recipe.

Serve this fenugreek dal as a soup, or as a main dish with some steamed rice or Indian flat bread (like rotis, chappatis or naan). But my personal favorite accompaniment to the dal is my south Indian tomato rice!

Check out more of Veggie Belly's lentil recipes and Indian recipes!

Red Lentils with Fenugreek or Methi Dal
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free / Serves about 4

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or ghee 
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • 1 thai chili or jalapeno, slit 
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 
  • 1 cup red lentils 
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves (substitute with 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek or 1 cup of fresh spinach or both) 
  • 1 tablespoon, or to taste, lemon juice 
  • Salt 
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add cumin and chili into the oil. When cumin sizzles, add onion and sauté on medium heat till the onion is soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 2 more minutes. 
  2. Add lentils and turmeric to the saucepan and stir. Pour 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the saucepan, and simmer till the lentils are cooked, about 12 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the lentil you use. 
  3. While the dal is cooking, wash the fenugreek, pluck the leaves and tender stems, and discard the rest. Measure out 1 cup of plucked fenugreek. 
  4. When dal is almost done cooking, stir in the fenugreek leaves (or dried fenugreek and/or spinach), and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, and salt. 
  5. Serve hot with tomato rice.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, May 16th, 2011 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Soups, Vegan or Modifiable.

20 Responses to “Indian Lentil Soup with Fenugreek (Methi Dal) – Guest Post Recipe”

  1. Reply
    May 16, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Thanks for having me guest post!

  2. Reply
    May 16, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Looks delish, my favourite way of eating them will be with plain hot rice with some pickels. Jus tthe thought makes me drool.

  3. Reply
    May 16, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    This looks delicious. I made a dahl the other day with green split peas and a bit of tomato. Delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Reply
    May 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    This soup sounds so good! Can’t wait to try this new recipe! Thank You!

  5. Reply
    May 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    Oh goodie! Another dal to try! And guess who has a box of methi lurking in the back of the pantry… I was going to make buttermilk potatoes, a recipe my Assamese friend made for me, but I lost the recipe. Dal to the rescue! Thanks Sala and Michael.

  6. Reply
    May 18, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I love methi – fresh and dried. Love this healthy and flavorful dal and both your blogs.

  7. Reply
    May 19, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    Yum, I love veggie curries! What lovely colours

  8. Reply
    May 23, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    Wow! This looks stunning, thanks so much for all the inspiring ideas, keep up the good work.

  9. Reply
    May 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm #


    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
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  10. Reply
    September 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    I was going to make buttermilk potatoes, a recipe my Assamese friend made for me, but I lost the recipe. Dal to the rescue!
    I was going to make buttermilk potatoes, a recipe my Assamese friend made for me, but I lost the recipe. Dal to the rescue!

  11. Reply
    September 29, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Can’t wait to try this new recipe! Thank You! This looks stunning, thanks so much for all the inspiring ideas.

  12. Reply
    October 19, 2011 at 1:43 am #


  13. Reply
    January 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    How wonderful. I made beef lentil soup this week but this sounds like it would be out of this world. I am a big fan of lentils and always like new ways to cook with them.

  14. Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of Mexican, Italian, and Thai kitchens. However, I’ve never had Indian food before, and I’m becoming more and more curious about it and willing to try it. Does anyone share the love for these cuisines and if so, what similarities do they share with Indian? Any commonalities I should look for in flavors or textures?

    • Reply
      December 2, 2012 at 8:00 am #

      Of the three, I would say the most similar is Thai for the shared love of spices, but even then the flavor profiles and cooking methods are pretty different. My suggestion would be to go eat at an Indian restaurant (preferably a few times) and see how you like the flavors. This will give you a good sense of what you are aiming for if you decide you’d like to cook this cuisine at home. If you do decide to try, I think you will find it to be very interesting and rewarding.

  15. Reply
    April 11, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Thanks for this simple and delicious recipe. I bought a huge bunch of green fenugreek at Ramle Market and this is a great way to use it (I usually make Persian food with it). The soup is simmering now in my kitchen 🙂

  16. Reply
    George Carey
    December 1, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Just finished making this and i’s wonderful. I used jalapeños and fresh kasoori methi. The result is a beautiful looking dish with just enough warmth to bring out the flavors yet mild enough that I think my wife will even enjoy it.

    I doubled the recipe and I’m so glad I did. Thank you!

  17. Reply
    May 29, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    I want to thank you for this wonderful ideas to cook healthier. I have a question, can I use the dried little pellets like fenugreek for this recipe? I’m not sure how to use this kind.

    • Reply
      May 29, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      I think you would need to grind them, with a blade-type coffee grinder or mortar and pestle for example.

  18. Reply
    May 29, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Well thank you so much! I will get started to using them ! Then I will also look into getting some of the fresh one. Great Blog !

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