This coming weekend is the beginning of the Bengali Hindu festival of Durga Puja, which lasts for five days. I have written a few posts on the celebration here and here over the last couple of years. In short, the weekend is spent visiting temples in all corners of London, catching up with family and friends and eating vegetarian feasts at the temples. I am not Hindu but I enjoy being part of the occasion, which is always very lively and colourful, and of course the food is always so good.
I was pottering around in my local Asian supermarkets this morning when I came across some methi – fresh fenugreek. Fenugreek is jam packed with health benefits. We all need it in our diet – either the seeds or fresh leaves or both. It lowers blood cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease, controls blood sugar levels – therefore diabetics are advised to eat it daily. It aids digestion, weight loss, prevents colon cancer – the list goes on. Seriously if you have not had it before please try it and then try and incorporate it into your diet. One way you can do this is by making fenugreek/methi paratha. The hard part will be locating the fresh methi.
If you live in London then you will have no problem as you will find it at any Indian/Asian supermarket. Apparently it is really easy to grow so maybe it is something to look into growing if you are living outside a major city. I would love to hear how you get on if you go down this path.
Anyway back to the making of the paratha. It is important to carefully take the leaves of the fenugreek plant away from the stem, as the stem is very bitter and you don’t want to be eating that. I leave the leaves to soak in a bowl for 15 minutes so that the grit and dirt sinks to the bottom. Then you can easily remove the leaves and place them in a new dry bowl along with the spices and flour.
If you don’t have a tawa then simply use a frying pan. Once the leaves have soaked and you have made the dough it takes very little time to make the paratha.
They are great eaten with dal such as this one or this one or simply with chutney and perhaps a little yoghurt and lemon. In India they are sometimes eaten at breakfast, but I tend to eat them for lunch or dinner.
Makes round 5
50g fresh methi/fenugreek (leaves only), washed and finely chopped
1 small fresh green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt, optional
2 tbsp melted ghee/butter/oil
- First remove the methi leaves and discard the rest of the methi stem. Place in a bowl of fresh cold water and leave to soak for 15 minutes.
- Gently remove the methi leaves so that the grit and dirt is at the bottom of the water bowl. Discard this water. Place in a clean dry bowl.
- Measure out the flours, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and fresh chilli (if using).
- Use your hand to begin to bind the ingredients together. Gradually add a little warm water so that a dough forms. Be careful not to make it too wet.
- Place a drop of oil in the bottom of the bowl and cover the dough, which you have now made into a ball shape. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
- Knead the dough for a minute further and then break off a small part – about the size of a lime.
- Place the dough in some fresh flour and then roll it out on a dry, clean surface. If you want to make triangular paratha roll the dough into a circle and then fold it in half and then half again. I kept mine round today.
- Heat a tawa/frying pan and place a drop of ghee onto the pan. Then place the paratha on the pan and leave for a couple of minutes.
- Whilst it is cooking begin making your next paratha.
- Before turning over the paratha on the pan, brush a little ghee on the top and then turn over. You want the paratha to begin to have little bubbles that begin to bronze. Leave to cook on this side for a further couple of minutes. If need be turn over again and then place to one side.
- Repeat until all the dough has been used up.
Eat warm with dal, chutney or yogurt with a splash of fresh lemon.
Notes: You can also add finely chopped onion, 1 tsp garlic paste and/or ginger paste, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp ajwain/carom seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander powder. There are so many options so try a variation and see what works for you.