Creamy Fenugreek Leaves and Green Peas

Fenugreek leaves and peas1

Fenugreek leaves, also called methi in Hindi, is used as an herb and as a spice in Indian cooking. I use the fresh leaves in dals, vegetables dishes, and to make methi paratha. I use fenugreek seeds in pickles, sambars, and to make different powdered spice mixes or pastes. Several of my recipes call for dried fenugreek leaves, which is called kasuri methi in Hindi. The fresh fenugreek leaves have a slightly bitter taste which becomes more prominent when dried. I use dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) in small quantities to flavor my dishes. Amber in color, fenugreek seeds are an essential ingredient to the Bengali five-spice mix, which is call panch phoron. I’ll post a recipe using fenugreek seeds soon.

In one of his shows, Dr. Oz talked about how fenugreek helps boost energy and level your blood sugar. The seeds have been used in India for centuries as a natural remedy for many problems, such as, acid reflux, heartburn, reducing cholesterol, and soothing soar throats.

If you haven’t tried using fenugreek leaves before, here is a recipe to help you get started. You can buy fenugreek leaves at the Asian market or at an Indian grocery store. Use the young, fresh leaves as they have less of a bitter taste.

Creamy Fenugreek leaves and Green Peas
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

2 tablespoons ghee
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup tomato purée, (2 Roma tomatoes, blanched, skin removed and puréed)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1 cup frozen/fresh peas
2 bunches fenugreek leaves, (methi)
1 cup heavy cream, (you can use milk for a lighter version)
¼ cup cream, (malai)
½ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons kasuri methi, (optional)

Grind to a paste:
1 cup roughly sliced onion
1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
1 tablespoon roughly chopped ginger
3 green chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
8 cashew nuts (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 cardamoms, (use seeds only)
1 clove
½-inch piece cinnamon, (broken into bits)
¼ cup water

In a blender, grind the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, cashew nuts, poppy seeds, cardamom seeds, clove, cinnamon, and water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Pick the fenugreek leaves and discard the stems. Wash the leaves in several changes of water and soak them in hot water for five minutes. Drain and chop them roughly.

Heat ghee and oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the ground ingredients. Stir constantly and cook until the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone. About three minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook until you see the oil separate. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder, peas and fenugreek leaves. Stir well, cover with a lid, and cook for five minutes. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir in the heavy cream, two tablespoons of cream, sugar, salt to taste, and garam masala. Crush the kasuri methi in your palm and add it to the creamy gravy. Let it cook for another ten minutes. Do not let it come to a boil. If the gravy is too thick, you can add two or three tablespoons of milk. Turn off the heat, and garnish the dish with the remaining two tablespoons of cream. Serve with chapati, naan or rice.

Mattar Paneer Curry

Muttar Paneer2

Mattar Paneer Curry is a North Indian dish made with paneer and peas. The sauce is spicy, creamy and slightly sweet. Mattar Paneer is a dish I make frequently when I entertain, especially when my guests are vegetarian.

To keep the paneer soft and moist, fry the pieces until they turn light brown, remove with a slotted spoon, and put them directly into warm water. Just before they go into the curry, gently dab them with paper towels, to remove as much water as possible.

I think this recipe comes pretty close the popular Indian restaurant versions. I hope you will try it and give me your feedback. You can buy paneer and kasoori methi at Indian grocery stores.

Mattar Paneer
To be ground in a blender
1 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ cup chopped cilantro

To fry the paneer
14 oz paneer (400 grams)
3 tablespoons oil
5 cups warm water

To make the mattar paneer curry
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups water
2 teaspoons kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice

To be ground in a blender
Grind chopped onion, ginger, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Set aside.

To fry the paneer
Cut the paneer into small pieces. I cut my paneer into small rectangular pieces. In a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and then add a few pieces of paneer at a time and fry until light brown. Remove and put them directly into warm water. Repeat with the rest of the oil and paneer. Set aside.

To make the mattar paneer curry
Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers add cumin seeds. When they splutter add the ground onion, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. Sauté until it turns light brown and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, scrape the bottom of the pan well, and fry until the oil separates. Add the coriander, chilli, turmeric and cumin powder. Sauté for one minute and then add the peas. Add water, cover and cook until the peas are done.

In the mean time, drain the paneer pieces and with paper towels gently remove excess water. Add the paneer to the curry. Crush kasoori methi in the palm of your hand and add it to the curry. Add cream and lemon juice. Stir gently and cook for five minutes. Serve mattar paneer with rice, chapatis or naan.

Vegetable Biriyani with Quinoa

The UN declared 2013 as the “International Year of Quinoa” in recognition of ancestral practices of the Andean people, who preserved quinoa as food for our generation and for generations to come.

I found quinoa at my local Costco and thought I would feature this grain-like seed in my blog today. Quinoa is considered a superfood and valued for it high protein content. It is a good source of dietary fiber and calcium and thus great for vegans who are lactose intolerant. It is also gluten-free.

Wash the quinoa in several changes of water and soak it for 20-30 minutes before you cook with it. It cooks really well in a rice cooker and I use a ratio of one cup quinoa to one and a half cups of water.

Vegetable Biriyani with Quinoa
For the masala mix
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 inch piece cinnamon, broken into small bits
4 cloves
2 cardamoms
½ cup grated coconut
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
10 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
3 green chillies, roughly chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped

For the quinoa
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups quinoa, washed in several changes of water
, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
1 medium carrot, cubed
1 small red capsicum, cubed
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup cashew nuts, fried in a little oil

For the masala mix
In a small frying pan, over medium-high heat, add coconut oil and lightly fry cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Remove and cool. Grind the fried spices and the rest of the ingredients for the masala mix in a blender. Set aside.

For the quinoa
Heat coconut oil in a large pot. Add the masala mix and fry for about five minutes. Add turmeric and the quinoa and fry for another three minutes. Add the vegetables, salt and water and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff up the quinoa with a fork. Add lemon juice, garnish with fried cashew nuts and serve. Alternately, you can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker.

Nutrela Curry

Nutrela Curry2I’m lucky to have one of my nephews living close by. He recently dropped some groceries to my home and said, “Aunty, I see that you are cooking a lot because of your new website, so I thought I would bring you some ingredients!” Thank you, Eddy!

Among the ingredients he brought was a box of Nutrela Soya Chunks. It is made by Ruchi and comes in three variations – soya chunks, mini-chunks, and granules. It is known in India as Soy Mealmaker and it can be purchased at Indian grocery stores or even from It is an excellent source of protein and a great alternative to meat for vegetarians. I use soya chunks to replicate non-vegetarian dishes. I find that it takes on the taste and flavor of the spices and vegetables that I add.

The first step in preparing Nutrela for cooking involves soaking the chunks in warm salt water for ten minutes. You can omit the salt if you intend to make a sweet dish or if you have salt restrictions. The second step involves draining the water and washing the chunks until the water runs clear. Squeeze the excess water from the chunks and it is ready for you to use in your curry. Here is a recipe that I tested yesterday.

Nutrela Curry
1 cup chopped onions
1 inch piece of ginger
5 cloves of garlic
3 green chillies
¼ cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons oil
4 cloves
4 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamoms
1 inch piece of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup diced potatoes
½ cup frozen peas
2 cups soya chunks (soaked, drained, washed per instructions on the Nutrela box)
2 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste
½ cup yoghurt

Pulse onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, and cilantro in a blender and process until it is ground. Scrape down the sides of the blender once during the process. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the whole spices (garam masala) – cloves, green and black cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. When the cinnamon stick unfurls and the cloves and other spices pop add the ground onion mixture. Cook stirring until fragrant, about five minutes.

Next add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the oil separates. Add the chilli, coriander, turmeric powder and salt. Stir for 30 seconds and then add potatoes, peas, soya chunks, and stir in the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes and peas are done and the curry begins to thicken. Add the yoghurt, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another seven minutes. Your delicious, protein-packed curry is ready to be served with steaming hot rice.