Fenugreek, trigonelle, ziegenkraut, methi goes by many names!
An herb native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Western Asia. The Romans brought it to the rest of the world from ancient Greece, where it grew as commonly as hay, hence one of its other names ‘Greek hay’.
It grows to about three feet tall, has light green leaves, small white flowers and the seed pods contain 10 – 20 small, flat, yellow brown aromatic seeds. It enjoys well drained alkaline soil in direct sunlight, being sown closely together and having poetry read to it.
Methi has a raft of medicinal purposes. It lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease, controls blood sugar levels, aids digestion, helps reduce menstrual cramps, helps treat skin problems and could possibly help reduce hair loss!
It is such a medical marvel it was used in Lydia Pinkham’s miracle mixture ‘women’s tonic’, you know the song ‘Lily the pink’ by the 60s group Scaffold? That’s her!
Methi is an integral part of Indian cooking, from potatoes to the base in curry powder, it gives the taste of curry that indefinable flavour. On its own it is incredibly bitter, roasting the seeds takes the bitterness off but also produces a very sweet smell like maple syrup (which it is often used as a substitute for).
It is used as a spice and an herb, the fresh young leaves are used with bitter flavours to give it a complex sweetness. The seeds, ground up as a powder, are used to give a subtle bitterness to excite the taste buds.
Cooking with methi takes a dish from black and white to glorious technicolour! …in 3D… with surround sound.
If you want to use methi in your dishes add the seeds to sauces, curries and soup at the start of cooking so it can infuse with the other flavours, or you can pan roast them and add them to pickles.
The leaves work particularly well with coriander, cumin and paprika. It gives depth to tomatoes in sauces and stews especially if simmering with Okra. Be careful when you experiment with it however, it’s bitterness can be overwhelming if you use too much and it’s a good idea to finish your dish with lemon or lime juice to cut the sweetness!
Basically, if this spice were a person, it’d be an ex you still love… complex and bitter but also very sweet.
If you want to enjoy methi cooked by the experts, why not visit us for a delicious bowl of Bombay aloo potatoes or one of our Rajestani Tadka dishes! Drop down tonight or you can even book a reservation in advance.