Aloo Methi is a classic loved dish in the northern regions of india during the winter months. As soon as the winter knocks in, a lot of leafy greens could be spotted on the cart of our sabziwala, the vegetable vendor who used to bring us fresh produce everyday. A regular for more than a decade at my grandma’s house, he would bring in a mix of fresh coriander, petite cauliflowers, slender radishes and baby potatoes also making sure to stop by the mandi (wholesale market) to stock up his cart with a few pounds of tomatoes, onions and other seasonal produce.Then all day long, he went knocking door to door selling his stash to old and new customers. We did not go to grocery stores then, in those days and even now, such vegetable, fish and poultry vendors bring groceries for fresh meals served on our tables.
Every now and then if not daily, my grandma and him would have funny altercations, her complaining of the vegetables not being ‘that’ fresh and costly, him arguing that his wife cooked a delicious sabzi last night with the same thing. A lot of time my grandma would haggle for that extra bunch of cilantro or few limes for it was deemed totally legit to get free herbs after a hefty purchase. On most days, he gave in to the sweet old lady, packing in a few ounces of green chillies and fragrant mint.As the winters ripened, the leafy produce- spinach, methi, beet & turnip greens, radish, mustard became cheaper and cheaper. Needless to say, it would be a green meals fiesta on our dinner table on most of the days, a garlicky methi aloo to spinach dal to palak paneer or sarson ka saag (mustard curry).
Methi (fenugreek leaves) are used a lot in north indian cooking.Here in the States, you can easily find them fresh in the indian/pakistani stores once the autumn starts to knocks. Avoid using frozen. Broadly, there are two varieties of methi– the small one, with round, dark green and extremely fragrant & delicate leaves called the kasuri methi that you would have noticed me using a lot in my recipes. It has a short season and even during winters it is available only for a couple of weeks. The other variety, the larger one is less fragrant in comparison but has a longer season and can be homegrown easily from methi dana (fenugreek seeds). In indian cooking, seeds as well as leaves, both are used their piquant, bitter flavor. Methi has a unique, tangy bitter flavor which is definitely an acquired taste but trust me it is so addictive.My grandma always used to mix fresh dill (sooaa) leaves whenever cooking methi aloo. Even though I never liked the addition of dill then but now in all these years, I like to add a few tablespoons so that mine comes out tasting like hers. However, do not use a lot of dill as it is a strong herb and can overpower the methiÂ taste. Potatoes lend the dish a nice, comforting earthy flavor as well as balance the bitterness of the greens. Do not be tempted to reduce potato quantity coz then the stir fry will come out quite bitter. The dish is generously flavored with garlic and dried chillies and is a perfect accompaniment to steamed basmati rice dal and a side of mango pickle. The dish keeps very well for hours so you could also wrap up the stir fry in triangle paratha (flatbread) for a hearty lunch at work or school. The dish gets better the next day so plan a few leftovers if you like.
Here are few of my tips and tricks for the best tasting methi aloo that you will make:-
- When you are cleaning methi, just pick up the leaves and discard the stems. Stems are fibrous and don’t taste that good.
- Always taste your methi bunch before cooking. Depending on the bitterness, decide whether to use red chili powder or not
- This sabzi tastes so awesome with baby potatoes or new potatoes. Always semi cook the potatoes first because the methi leaves cook really fast. I usually use par boiled potatoes which finish cooking with the greens.
- I prefer cooking methi aloo in an iron kadai /cast iron pan, it tastes very good.
- Don’t skip the amchoor (dry mango powder), its super important and reduces the bitterness of methi. You can also use few teaspoons of lemon juice instead.
Methi Aloo – Fenugreek With Potatoes
Methi Aloo – Fenugreek With Potatoes
- 3-4 cup methi leaves (from about 4 bunches)
- 2 large par boiled potatoes, cold, peeled and cubed
- 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (mustard oil adds a authentic flavor but grapeseed/avocado oil can be used)
- 1/3 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/3 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
- 3 garlic gloves, thinly sliced
- 2 dried whole chilies
- scant pinch of turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder (skip if the methi is very sharp)
- 1 tbsp fresh dill leaves, chopped optional
- 1/3 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
- Pick up the tender shoots and leaves from the long, fibrous methi stems. This step takes time. Then, soak and wash the leaves under running water 2-3 times to remove all the dirt. On a clean kitchen towel, spread the washed methi to completely air dry for atleast 30 to 45 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towel to press down and absorb all the moisture. Ensure that the leaves are totally dry once you are ready to cook else the sabzi will come out watery.Once the methi leaves are dry, chop them.
- In an iron karahi or heavy pan, heat up the mustard oil on medium until the raw smell goes away. Once hot, temper the oil with methi dana and cumin seeds. Wait till they crackle. Turn the heat to low and immediately add the chopped garlic hing and dried chillies. Wait till the garlicchanges color to light brown and the dried chillies swell, about 10-12 seconds in hot oil. Take utmost care that the garlic does not burn. You can even put off the stove for few minutes.
- Reduce the stove to low and next add the potato cubes and sprinkle the turmeric and chili powder. Stir around and get the potatoes started in oil. Cook the potatoes for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped methi leaves. Stir to combine. The methi leaves will wilt down in 1-2 minutes and you will see the water of the methi separating. Let cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes on medium low heat and then add the dill. Add the salt next. Stir so that everything is combined. Cover for a 3-4 minutes and cook until the potatoes are done.
- Once done, methi will be a darker shade of green and will stick to potatoes. Put off the heat, sprinkle amchoor, mix gently (so that potatoes dont break) and let sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving (this is important).
- Warm up and serve.