I'm not going to say this is an original idea, but - for me at least - it was inspired by the "keerai-kuzhambu" that happened fairly often when we were growing up. It was a generic name for a new dish born of the marriage of leftovers (basically, keerai (spinach) and whatever kuzhambu had been made - usually sambar or vetral kuzhambu) and served with pazhaya sadam (old cooked rice soaked in water overnight and made up the next day into a loose mix with buttermilk), or with dosas or idlis - but never with fresh rice, I guess we kids didn't think it deserved that accolade!
I've merely reprised the role of keerai-kuzhambu, as it were, by using vendhaya keerai (methi/fenugreek greens) instead of regular, to make fresh sambar. However, that didn't stop me from eating the sambar with curd rice.
Recipe for: Vendhaya keerai (fenugreek greens) sambar
1/2 cup toor/tuvar dal
2 green chillies, slit (optional)
Fresh methi (fenugreek greens), leaves and tender stems chopped finely
5-6 shallots, sliced thin
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1.5 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 4 cups water
2 tsp oil
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 small sprig curry leaves (6-10 leaves)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
2 tsp sambar powder
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish
1. Pressure-cook the tur/tuvar dal 1.25 cups water, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and two slit green chillies. Remove the green chillies after the dal is cooked, and mash the dal smooth.
2. Heat the oil in a deep-sided pan and add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin powder and asafoetida powder. Cover and let the mustard seeds pop.
3. Once the mustard seeds have popped, add the sliced shallots and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat till the shallots start to soften.
4. Add the chopped tomato and let it cook till it begins to turn mushy.
5. Now add the chopped vendhaya keerai (fenugreek greens) and stir till it's well mixed with the contents of the pan. Let it cook on med-low heat till completely wilted.
6. Now pour in the tamarind water and bring it to a brisk boil.
7. Once the water is boiling, add the sambar powder and mix it in.
Let this boil for 10-15 minutes, then add the cooked tur/tuvar dal along with the rice flour dissolved in 4-5 tbsp water. Add salt to taste, bring the sambar back to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
8. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and serve hot over plain rice, or as a side dish with curd rice.