Aloo Methi is a classic loved dish in the northern regions of india during the cold months. As soon as the winter knocks in, a lot of leafy greens could be spotted in the farmers markets as well as on the cart of the sabzivala,the vegetable vendor who used to bring us fresh produce everyday from his fertile patch.A regular for more than a decade at my grandma’s house, he would bring in a mix of fresh coriander,petite yellowish cauliflowers and slender radishes and potatoes from his patch,also making sure to stop by the mandi (wholesale market) everyday 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 grown and bought to old and new customers. We did not go to grocery stores then, in those days and still such vegetable, fish and poultry vendors are responsible for fresh meals served on our tables. Every now and then if not daily, my grandma and him would have funny altercations, she 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 along.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 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 if you can. Broadly, there are two varieties of methi– the small one, with round, dark green and extremely fragrant & delicate leaves called the kasuri methi.You would have noticed me using it 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 addictive.My grandma always used to mix fresh dill (sooaa) leaves whenever cooking methi aloo (potatoes) in a karahi(indian wok). Even though I never liked addition of dill then but now in all these years, it has changed.However, do not use a lot of dill as it is a strong herb and can overpower the methi 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 come very 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.
Methi Aloo – Fenugreek With Potatoes
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
3 cups methi (fenugreek leaves)
3-4 tbsp pure mustard oil (mustard oil adds a authentic flavor but olive/canola oil can be used)
heaped 1/4 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 whole dried kashmiri chilies
1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne)
scant pinch of turmeric powder
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder)
2-3 stalks fresh dill leaves, chopped (about 2 tbsp) (Optional can be skipped)
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubes ( or 7-8 baby potatoes)
Pick up the tender shoots and leaves from the long, hard methi stems. Wash the leaves under running water to remove all the dirt. On a clean kitchen towel, spread the washed methi to completely air dry for 30-45 minutes. If you are in a hurry, use paper towel to absorb all the moisture. Ensure that the leaves are totally dry once you are ready to cook else the stir fry will come out watery. Chop the leaves and set aside.
In a karahi or heavy skillet, 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 garlic changes 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 if you feel that the oil is already hot enough.
Next, add the red chill, turmeric and amchoor powder. Stir for 3-4 seconds and add the chopped methi leaves. Stir to combine. The methi leaves will wilt down in 1-2 minutes and you will see they start wilting down and water of the methi separating. Let cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes on medium low heat and then add the dill along with potatoes. Add the salt next. Stir so that everything is combined.
Cover the karahi with a lid and let cook for 3-5 minutes until everything is cooked through. The methi will be a darker shade of green at the end of cooking and will stick to potatoes. Put off the heat and let sit for at least 1-2 hours before serving (this is important).
Mushrooms rarely made an appearance at meal time during my childhood years so I don’t even remember how and when I started liking them. The then winter vegetable, it was overly price and named fancy. There was this white puffy vegetable that had hit the vegetable market and no one cared about it for a while.They say it’s a kind of fungi – could be poisonous, the rumor went viral.
I still remember how small button mushrooms were cooked with just shelled, sweet tasting winter peas(matar) & gently simmered in a tomato base. In no time we sat down to scoop the stir fry with fresh-off -the skillet triangle parathas. They were mellow, meaty and pleasantly chewy. The hints of spices, just perfect to balance the natural sweetness & adding the correct depth of flavor to offset their blandness.
Weekday lunches are quite rushed for me, you will usually find me decking up the lunch plate from what’s in the refrigerator.With a toddler who wants to explore every cabinet in the house and has to be constantly watched,I barely cook something elaborate for myself. On some days its lentils re- tempered & served with pickled vegetables or leftover chickpeas curry with a side of yogurt. Sometimes, I treat myself to quickest scrambled egg (bhurji) with flatbreads on the side.
Even after trying hard for years, I could never get my husband to like mushrooms.That leaves only me in the house who eats them.Sweet & spicy,this mushroom & pea stir fry is few of those things that I make just for myself for a quick lunch. You could buy pre sliced, cleaned mushrooms and make it extra fast.
Many versions of mushroom matar use heavy cream or nut paste for a rich version or may a times water is added to make it sort of a curry but I have always liked this dryish stir fry than gravy. I really like how the tomato base coats the mushroom keeping them perfectly moist and adding hints of acidity.If you cook the tomatoes properly, they almost taste like a chunky ketchup like (if you know what I mean).
Ingredients (Serves 2)
8 oz mushrooms
1/2 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp oil
1/3 cup onions, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped (yield about 3/4 cup)
1-2 Thai green chillies, chopped (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, substitute with fresh lemon juice to taste)
salt to taste
pinch of sugar
Generous pinch of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between palms)
Chopped Cilantro – for garnish
Clean the mushrooms and slice them. If using frozen peas, thaw them. Set aside.
In a pan/wok/kadhai, on high, heat up the oil to smoky point.Reduce the heat to medium & add the chopped onions & garlic. When the onions start to soften & turn lightly brown, add the chopped tomatoes, green chilies, ginger, turmeric, coriander,amchoor and red chili powder to the kadhai and turn heat to medium-low. Let the tomatoes cook down and soften, cook this masala till you see oil separating on sides. At this point turn heat to medium high & add the sliced mushrooms. Also add pinch of salt. Cook the mushrooms till the are tender. They will slowly release their water and start to shrink in size. I used white button mushrooms & it took they approximately 6-8 minutes to cook. The time will depend on the variety of mushrooms you are using. Once the mushrooms are sweaty and have shrunk in size, add the peas,adjust the salt, sprinkle the sugar and also add the kasuri methi . Cover for 5 minutes on medium – low heat and let cook.
Garnish with chopped cilantro. You can also squirt little lemon juice/vinegar if you like. Serve immediately.
Hope all of you had a lovely 4th of July. We took a little vacation to LA and Malibu.It was our first road trip ever & could not have been more fun.We spent a lot of time on beaches, sun bathing, chatting and eating fresh seafood. A visit to botanical gardens and theme park rounded off the trip. All in all, LA was definitely a respite from the over the top hot weather in Vegas right now. Its 113 F/45 C as I type this 🙁
Breaking loose from almost a perfect vacation, our car refused to behave a couple of times in the middle of Mojave desert while driving back. Being 4th of July and with everything closed, we almost reached a point when we decided to stay over in nearby town for the night. However, thanks to few God sent personnel at gas stations,we managed way back home.
I normally don’t binge during vacations,still all the outside food makes me want to eat simple, clean meals for the days that follow. I came home wanting just that. This salad is my go to recipe for those days.
Yellow Mung lentils (dal) are de skinned whole mung bean and have a very mild taste. I have grown eating them in this dryish preparation either as a side with flat breads or mixed with ghee & rice as well as salad. Since yellow mung lentils are quick to cook, this salad can be fixed in no time.Once you cook the lentils, it’s just a matter of chopping the veggies and tossing everything together with lots of lemon juice. I added a handful of ready to eat edamame beans & there it was – a hearty, protein packed salad which is so light & summery. And yup..so healthy!
Did I tell you..this is my 150th post…kinda feels good 🙂
Lentils form a big part of indian cuisine – meals are far from complete without them – soups, fritters, flat breads, stews, patties…you will find them used in all ways imaginable. India being a vegetarian country, we get our daily protein dose from them. I cook lentils daily in some way or the other. P is more of a lentil soup person, I enjoy them either way.
I was introduced to edamame after I came to USA. I did not care for them much initially but knowing how good they are, now I try to include them in our diet as much as possible.I am still away from eating them all on their own but have found a perfect way to eat them this way – overshadowed by earthy taste of lentils & crunch of fresh vegetables – hardly making their presence felt.
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
1/2 cup yellow mung dal, split
2 cups water (for soaking)
1 tbsp mustard oil (substitute with any oil of choice)
1 tsp jeera (cumin)
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
3- 4 tbsp water (for cooking)
For the salad
1/4 cup each chopped red onion,cucumber, tomatoes (use any veggies of choice in any quantity you like)
1/4 cup edamame (I used ready to eat, if using raw, see note in method)
4-5 fresh mint/cilantro leaves, chopped
1 green chillies, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
1.5 tbsp fresh lime/lemon juice (or to taste)
Olive Oil (to drizzle)
salt to adjust
Cooking Lentils – Thoroughly wash the mung lentils 2-3 times under stream of water. Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for atleast 2.5 -3 hours. Once soaked, drain out the soaking liquid. Set aside.
In a medium pot with lid, heat the oil on medium. Once you see ripples on the surface of the oil, reduce the heat to low. Temper the oil with jeera & hing. Wait for 10-15 seconds till the jeera crackles & you smell the aroma of hing. Add the minced ginger & turmeric powder next & saute for another 10 seconds.
Next, add the soaked lentils and salt to taste. Stir well to coat the lentils in the tempering. Add 3 tbsp of water to the pot and cover. Let cook on low heat for 8-12 minutes till the lentils are thoroughly cooked but retain their shape. You need to check 1-2 times in between to see that the lentils are not sticking to the pot bottom, if so, add a tbsp of water. Dont peek too much while the lentils cook, the idea is so steam them slowly on low heat.
Note :- If using fresh edamame beans, add them to the pot towards the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, so that they steam with the lentils.This will ensure that they remain green & crunchy.
Once cooked, put the stove off and let the lentils & edamame sit covered for another 5-8 minutes till they cool down a bit. Fluff gently using a fork and let them cool off completely. At this point, if you want to make the salad later, you can refrigerate the lentils in air tight containers for 1-2 days.
Assembling the Salad – In a medium bowl, toss the cooled lentils & edamame with the chopped vegetables, mint, cilantro & green chillies. Squirt lemon juice, add red pepper flakes, olive oil (if using) and salt to taste. Combine well and serve at room temperature.