07 November, 2011

Aloo Methi Subzi (Potatoes with Fenugreek leaves)


Wonder Herb meets Toothsome Spud!

Can something that's "good for you" ever taste this great?  Aloo-Methi is without doubt one of my all-time favorite subzis (a position closely contested by "Gajar-Methi (Carrot with Fenugreek leaves)" - but that's another recipe...)

And, just in case the mere sight of potatoes makes you go "Yikes - Carbs!!" hold on a minute!  I have something to say in their defence (and this is not just because I'm an Aloo-loving Northie, which I also am!).

Fact is, this happens to be pretty much one of the healthiest methods of cooking potatoes that I can think of - just one tspn of oil in 5-6 servings, and pressure steamed two-three minutes.  So read on, you only need try it once, and you're sure to be hooked.


The reason why this combination is extra nice is because it has my favorite greens - Methi.  No other leafy can match that characteristic strong smell and the slightly bitter taste.  Incidentally, it is also used as a spice (from the very fragrant Kasuri Methi in dried leaf form, or the seeds in seasoning, or sprouts in cooking),

 And what's more, this amazing herb, that's almost ridiculously easy to grow, even in a balcony pot, is packed with nutrients.  A rich source of iron, it also has anti-diabetic properties, is a well-known galactagogue, widely used in home remedies and beauty treatments.  The list could go on, but this is one for the search engines.

 Truly a marriage made in heaven.



Ingredients:

1.  Potatoes: 6-7 smallish-medium sized, well-scrubbed.
2.  Methi Leaves: (Fenugreek leaves)   -  3-4 small bunches or 1 large bunch (or to taste)
3.  Jeera : (Cumin seeds)  1/4 tspn.
4.  Haldi :  (Turmeric Powder) 1/4 tspn.
5.  Red Chilly Powder: (optional) 1/2 tspn (or to taste)
6. Amchur Powder: (Dried Raw Mango Powder)1 tspn (optional - but adding this moderates the bitter methi taste somewhat.)
7.  Oil: 1 tspn

This will serve 5-6 as an accompaniment.

Here it is in pictures -

 Potatoes: - I used organic, and left the skins on. Peel, if not organic, and dice into inch cubes.

Methi - picked, cleaned, -
- and chopped.
Cumin seeds
Turmeric Powder
Red Chilly Powder
Amchur 

Oil  -  I used organic, cold-pressed sesame oil

- of a brand called Khandige, which is good, but rather expensive - There are other comparable brands that cost less. More on that coming up soon.) Here is how it looks -


Procedure:

I will be making this subzi the way I do nearly all of them, which is in that most ubiquitous of all kitchen utensils in an Indian household - the pressure cooker.  This is a 3 litre Hawkins Stainless Steel one that works out just fine for this sort of thing. (Stopped using the aluminium ones almost as soon as these became available - again, more on that later.)

So, using a medium flame, first heat the oil directly in the cooker,

When hot, add the cumin seeds,

The seeds will sizzle and start crackling soon enough, - then add the haldi (and chilly powder, if using),

Add the potatoes and chopped methi quickly thereafter (the powders can burn if left too long) -

Then comes the salt - only consider the potatoes for estimate, the methi's volume will reduce after cooking, though, of course, it's much better to add it when finally done, to avoid what is known as "hidden salt" in the diet.

A good stir to mix it all up -

Finally add one ladle (around 2 TBS) of water - this is necessary since it's a dry subzi, and, unlike as in the case of watery vegetables, the ingredients alone won't generate enough steam to build up sufficient pressure in the cooker.  If you are using a larger sized cooker, or a regular pot or pan, then you will need to increase this quantity to prevent burning.  In a cooker this size, this much water just about covers the entire base about 1-2 mm deep and works perfectly.  Just enough for the steam to cook, without making it soggy.

Close the lid and two "whistles" later -

Turn off the flame, release the pressure by lifting the vent weight, open the cooker.

The subzi is now cooked

 I test by breaking one of the aloo pieces - which confirms that it's done.

One last step is to evaporate any remaining bit of water that might still remain at the base. The amchur will also be added now (it doesn't need to be cooked).

This can be done by placing it on the flame for a coupe of minutes without the lid.

And it's finally done!
 Ready in no time.

Goes well with rotis or anything else, or in fact can be a meal just by itself.  A great accompaniment is fresh cut tomatoes and home made dahi (yogurt).

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