I consider myself very lucky because I get almost all the Indian supplies in this part of London where I live. I have some friends staying in other areas who are actually envious of me because of this. Grocery items such as the wheat flour, spices and some special items like Pohe (beaten rice), Rawa (Semolina), Murmura (Puffed rice), tamarind, Jaggery - you name it & I get it here at the local Tesco store.
For those who don't have easy access to these things, it is possible to hunt for these items & store them for a long time, say a month or until they again go to that particular store. What makes the real difference is getting the vegetables such as Drumstick, curry leaves, Gawar (cluster beans), Methi (Fenugreek), small brinjals, Kairi (raw mangoes), Dudhi (bottlegourd), Bittergourds etc.
Even though I get these veggies easily here, there are times when you don't see a particular vegetable in the shops for a long time. For this reason, whenever I do get them I stock up on them as if we are never going to get it again :) But even while I am paying for them at the store, the only thought running through the mind is how to utilise them before they get spoilt & wasted, especially the green leafy vegetables, which have a short life span in the refrigerator.
Last week when I saw these very fresh looking Methi (Fenugreek) bunches, I immediately picked up a couple of big ones. One was used to make these Thepla style Paranthas. The other was awaiting its turn in the refrigerator all plucked & cleaned up when it struck me that it had been a really long time since we had had Methi Matar Malai, a rich creamy preparation of Fenugreek & Peas.
- 3 cups chopped Methi (Fenugreek)
- 1 cup Green Peas
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tomatoes
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 tblsp oil
- 2 tsps Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 cup milk
To be ground into a paste
- 1 onion
- 2 Green Chillies
- 1" piece of Ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 tblsp Cashew
- 2 tsp khus khus (Poppy seeds)
For the dry masala powder
- 2" Cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 3-4 peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
Heat 1/2 tblsp oil in a pan and add 1 tsp cumin seeds. When they crackle add the chopped Methi leaves and saute for 3-4 minutes. Remove from fire and reserve. The original recipe actually called for the methi leaves to be mixed with 1-2 tsp salt & kept for 15 minutes, the leaves are then to be squeezed to get rid of the water. This is done to reduce the bitterness of the Methi leaves. I always skip this part because I like the slight bitter taste and also since the methi leaves available here are not that bitter anyway!
Blanch the tomatoes, peel, puree and keep aside.
Dry roast all the ingredients for the dry Masala and grind them to get a powder. Alternatively you can crush them in a mortar but the result will not be a fine powder.
To make the wet paste of onion & other ingredients, first dry grind the cashew and then add the other items and a bit of water if required, to get a smooth paste.
Heat the remaining 1/2 tblsp oil. Add the chopped onion & fry till they turn golden brown. Add the onion-cashew paste and fry for some more time. Add the dry masala and the tomato puree and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the peas, methi, milk, sugar and salt, mix and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Add the cream and turn off the flame. Mix well.
Serve hot with Roti, Phulkas, chapatis or Naans.
This is one of the few sweet tasting (very slightly!) curry/bhaji that we like, otherwise sweet gravies are a strict no-no for us. The combination of sweet & spicy is the main flavour of this dish.