Methi ka kya kasoor?" My eldest daughter repeated this line whenever she heard the name kasoori methi. Now she knows that kasoori methi is no criminal, in fact, it is a celebrity in preparations like paneer tikkas, gobhi aloo and even in prawn dishes. It is the flavour in any makhani gravy.
Kasoori methi gets its name from Kasur, a small place near Lahore, which is famous for its methi. Fresh methi or fenugreek leaves (no, not in this season) are lovely with baby potatoes (leave the skin on the way they do in Punjab) cooked in a lohe ki kadai. It's the ultimate in winter foods.
Whereas I can vouch for methi aloo, Alyona goes along with her choice of methi theplas, methi gota, methi muthia, methi khakhra and methia keri. I enthrall the kids with makai methi paranthe and anda methi pakode (perfect for this season!).
My friends love the Methi Matar Malai and Methi Dum Murgh; two of the highest ordered dishes in a restaurant. My Marwari friends put methi dana to good use in either a plain sabzi made with methi seeds or for tempering a few papads with some seeds for methi papad ki sabzi.
I have been thinking about Crackling Methi. Simply wash and towel dry methi leaves. Deep fry, drain well on paper and serve hot, nice and crispy , sprinkled with a little salt and chaat masala.
So what is the big deal about a green leafy vegetable that is actually bitter?! It's been used since ages as a medicinal plant (before that as cattle fodder).
Coarsely crushed I know of a few who still swallow a teaspoon of coarsely crushed methi dana every morning with a glassful of water to ward off diabetes. Diabetics can soak the seeds in water overnight and drink the water in the morning. It can help to diminish reactive hyperglycemia. The seeds (fresh, sprouted, dried) add their tasty two bits to vegetables, daals, kadhis and salads. The green leaves help in anaemia too.
I get a lot of queries regarding the correct usage of methi. First, trim the leaves, then wash, drain and then chop them; the chopping has to be after the washing otherwise all nutrients get drained off. Some like sprinkling salt on the trimmed leaves to decrease the bitterness (similar to karelas) but in the process lose out on the nutrients too.
A thing of beauty
The small bunches of gaothi methi that are available sometimes pack in quite a bitter punch. It takes time to trim these small leaves but the effort is worth it.
Methi has long been counted as a beauty aid. I read in a magazine that a paste of fresh methi leaves applied on the scalp clears dandruff and ensures that the hair remains soft and silky.
Another column claims that this methi paste applied as a face mask prevents eruptions, dryness of the skin and early appearance of wrinkles.
Well, I have not tried either of the treatments so cannot comment. What I can say is that methi is a good detoxifier for the internal system so include it in your diet plans…when you eat it so will the kids.
(The writer is a master chef, author and television host. Mail him on firstname.lastname@example.org )