Tag Archives: fenugreek

How to Make Saag Paneer

saag paneer

Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer has got to be one of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants! I helped my friends produce this video for Allercipes on how to make authentic saag paneer. Don’t want to round up all the spices yourself? Check out our Saag recipe kit!

How to Make Saag Paneer

 

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South Indian Curried Eggplant with a Spicy Coconut Gravy

This post has been a long time in coming.  I’ve made this a few times for friends and they’ve been asking for the recipe. This eggplant dish with a coconut gravy was something my mom made often when I was a kid.

South Indian eggplant curry with a spicy coconut gravy

And as I write this, I’m reminded of a recent article on CHOW titled 9 Words the Food Industry Killed. ‘Local’, ‘organic’ and ‘artisan’ made it on the list, understandably. ‘Mom’ is also on the list. While I agreed with most of the author’s argument, this point rankled with me at first. Until I realized I’d misunderstood the point.

The fast food movement, like many other industries I might point out, uses the image of mothers in ads to persuade people to buy something. And consumers, hello that’s us, we buy it. In a world where many moms are so busy that ‘food’ from McDonalds has become part of the family tradition, that’s all the more reason to celebrate mothers who took the time to hand down family recipes.  I never tire of reading posts from bloggers whose grandmothers were their biggest foodie inspiration. In my experience, most people consider their mom’s cooking to be the best. So keep putting out those recipes for flaky pie crusts from your grandma or your aunt’s out-of-this-world biryani. I’m a huge fan.

Of course, the day I see a treasured recipe that has been in the family for generations and calls for Hamburger Helper, will be the day I eat my words.

In the meantime, this recipe is from my mom. Of course, mine never comes out as good as hers. But I make it anyway. And it tastes good. And who knows, maybe one day, I will learn how to make it taste like the gold standard.

So I hope you’ll read on, cook the eggplant with coconut gravy and share this post with friends. Mom thinks it’s good!

The masala can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. Because there are many ingredients involved, I’d recommend making a big batch and using as needed.

This dish is a quintessential way of making ‘curries’ from South India, especially the state of Karnataka. Unlike North Indian curries, different spices are used and the gravy is made separately and added to the curried vegetable. The local name for this curried eggplant recipe is Badnekayi Palya. Except for the urud dal and fenugreek seeds that I purchased from the Indian grocery store, all other ingredients came from my neighborhood supermarket.

Readily available dessicated coconut and eggplant used in dish

Dry roasting the spices and coconut

Making the masala

Recipe – Serves 4

Masala

To Dry Roast

  • 1-2 dry red chili, stalks removed and cut up into smaller pieces
  • ½ cup dessicated, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon white poppy seeds (can substitute black)
  • 2 teaspoons split black lentils (urud dal) or use any other dehusked lentils
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)

To Grind

  • 1 teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon tamarind juice (if you can’t find it, substitute 2 teaspoons lemon juice)
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • 2 small green thai chilis or jalapenos
  • ½ cup water

Curry

  • 1 Eggplant, cut into 2 inch x ½ inch spears
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons high heat oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 5-10 curry leaves

In a skillet heated to medium low, dry roast the spices for 5 minutes. Blend the roasted spices with the remaining ingredients to be ground.

Heat 4 tablespoons high heat oil in the same skillet over medium high heat till the oil starts shimmering. Throw in a mustard seed and if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough to proceed. Sizzle the mustard seeds till they start spluttering.

Add curry leaves and let them fry for 5 seconds before adding the onions. Saute the onions till slightly brown and then add the garlic and eggplant. The eggplant pieces will soak up a lot of oil. If they start sticking to the skillet, add a bit more oil.

Sauté the eggplant for 5 minutes or till the pieces start softening. Add the blended gravy. Lower the heat to medium low. Cover the skillet and cook for 15 minutes.

Salt to taste. Add lime juice if desired.

Serve with rice, dosas or ragi rottis!

Badnekayi palya or South Indian curried eggplant with coconut gravy served with ragi rotti!

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‘Instant’ Mango Pickle

A bite of zesty

The bride and groom resplendent in their finery, she in her handwoven, red silk sari and gold jewelry, he in a dhoti and princely turban, are on stage surrounded by the priest and family members. The wedding guests rise to their feet as the music played by the wedding band in the corner of the large auditorium rises to a crescendo. When the priest gives the word, the guests all throw rice at the newly wedded couple, giving their approval and their blessing. The rice, as you can imagine, is everywhere. Welcome to a typical South Indian wedding.

While every community in India has different traditions and wedding ceremonies, one thing that is common to most Indian weddings is the large number of guests. Two thousand guests is nothing to bat an eyelid at.

One of my favorite parts of an Indian wedding, not surprisingly perhaps, is the food!

Even in large wedding halls, there are a few seatings for each meal due to the sheer number of people that have to be fed. The guests are seated in long rows and a banana leaf is placed in front of each one. Servers come by, each bearing one dish or side to be placed on the leaf. This is a wedding thali. One of my favorite sides which is also the simplest, is the instant mango pickle. It’s instant because with all the challenges that the wedding chef faces, he doesn’t have weeks or even days for the pickle to ‘set’.

Humble and modest though this pickle may be, its taste is anything but. It is tangy, fiery and complex.

This pickle should be consumed within a few days.

Green Mango (this was a bit too ripe)

Instant mango pickle ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 sour or unripe mango, finely diced with skin on
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (add more if this is not spicy enough for you)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (optional but adds wonderful depth)
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1 lime (optional, needed if your mango is not sour)

Recipe

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat till a mustard seed thrown into the oil sizzles. If you use mustard oil, heat it till it starts smoking.
  2. Throw in the mustard seeds and allow them to ‘splutter’. This should only take 5-10 seconds. Have a lid handy to cover the skillet and avoid a mess.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Add the chili powder, turmeric, asafetida and fenugreek. Allow the spices to cook for a few seconds while stirring well.
  5. Remove from heat before adding the mango pieces. Mix, squeeze lime juice and add salt to taste

Your mango pickle is ready. Use it as a condiment, mix into yogurt for a dip, use in sandwiches or just eat a bowl of it like I did!

South Indian wedding mango pickle

Notes

The mango I bought was already a bit too ripe though it was green on the outside. Choose a firm one. I added lots of lime juice to make up for the lack of sourness.

The skin of the mangoes you get in the US is quite thicker than the mangoes used for this pickle in India. You can consider slightly peeling or peeling half the mango so there are fewer pieces with skin.

Veena’s Market Indian recipe kits can be purchased here.

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New Potatoes with Sauteed Fenugreek

New red potatoes still in their jackets, chopped into bite size pieces if necessary. Fenugreek, an herb available in Indian stores for a short while in summer, vivid green and slightly bitter. Bell pepper, red and juicy, roasted till just south of tender, not an ingredient in the original recipe but thrown in anyway because I had it. Fresh dill, finely chopped and added almost at the end,giving a secret oomph to the dish.

I was home alone when I cooked this for dinner one evening last week. It was so good that I felt guilty about eating alone. Called Aloo Methi (“Potatoes Fenugreek” in Hindi), this simple dish is really easy to make and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. The flavor comes from the vegetables and herbs, so get them fresh and organic if you can. The recipe is adapted from Camellia Panjabi’s “50 Great Curries of India”. I’m hoping for redemption for eating alone by sharing my version of the recipe here.

New potatoes (can substitute with other potatoes if necessary. I used red, but white is typical) – 3/4 lb to 1 lb, cut into 1 inch or bite size pieces.

Bell pepper (any color) – 1/2, cut into roughly 1 inch pieces, optional

Onion (yellow) – 1/2 (or 1/4 cup), thinly sliced, optional

Fenugreek – 1 cup leaves only, roughly chopped

Dill – 2 tbsp chopped

Green chili (or jalapeno) – 1 or 2, slit lengthwise

Cilantro – 2 tbsp chopped

Garlic – 3 cloves crushed or minced

Turmeric – 1/4 tsp

Vegetable Oil – 3 tbsp

Lime – squeeze to taste

Salt – to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. The oil is hot enough if you throw in a piece of onion and it sizzles. Add the garlic, chili and onion and sweat till the pieces of onion are transparent. Add the fenugreek. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, bell pepper and turmeric. Saute for 5 minutes. Cover the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add a bit of water if necessary at any time. There is no ‘sauce’ in this dish. The water is just to prevent burning.

The potatoes should be fork tender after 25 – 30 minutes total.Once the potatoes are cooked, add the dill and cilantro. Also add salt and lime to taste. Mix well, let sit another 2 minutes on low and then serve after removing the pieces of chili.

This dish is great with Indian chapathis or even tortillas. I would also pair it with rice and plain yoghurt.

If you’ve never had fenugreek before, you should know that it is bitter by itself. But the flavor blends in really well when combined with other ingredients. You could optionally soak the leaves in water with some salt to remove the bitterness like you would do with eggplant.

Did you know that fenugreek helps decrease blood sugar and cholesterol while, erm, also being an aphrodisiac? It is an amazing herb really.

One of the things I’m trying to do with this blog is to show how easy it is to cook Indian food. Apart from finding fenugreek, this recipe is as easy as it gets. I hope you’ll try it out. Who knows, you might like it so much that you’ll write to me for more recipes that include fenugreek.

I promise to write back.

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