Methi Matar Malai is one those dishes that you will find on the menu of every “Mughlai” or “Punjabi” restaurant. In days of yore, there were two restaurants famous for Punjabi food in South-Central Mumbai; Pritam Da Dhaba in Dadar and Yogi in Chembur. My first memory of eating Methi Matar Malai was at Yogi.
I was fascinated by the rich creamy sweet ‘n’ spicy gravy that was served. I have tried in many places ever since and I have found that the taste varies from sweet to spicy. This is the spicy version simple because my family is not too fond of sweet gravies.
What I like about this dish is that it combines two ingredients that I would not normally consider putting together; bitter fenugreek and peas. Then there is the creamy gravy.
Traditional, Methi Matar Malai uses fresh cream in the gravy. I made the low calorie version that uses no cream and only milk to get the rich creamy taste.
Time: 45 Mins
Fresh Fenugreek Leaves – 2 Packed Cups
Peas – 1 Cup
Milk – 1.5 Cups
Cashews – 10-12
Ginger – 1/2″ piece
Garlic Cloves – 3
Green Chillies – 3
Cinnamon – 1/2″ piece
Cloves – 2
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Pepper Corns – 4
Green Cardamom – 1
Oil – 1 tbsp
Fresh Cream – 2 tbsp (optional)
Salt to Taste
Over medium heat, in a kadhai or wok, dry roast the cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cumin, and cardamom seeds for a couple of minutes.
Let the spices cool and grind to a fine powder.
In the same grinder (if possible), grind the cashews, ginger, garlic, and green chillies to a smooth, thick paste using about 2 tbsp of water.
In the work used for roasting the spices, heat the oil.
Add the fenugreek leaves and stir-fry till the leaves wilt.
Add the green peas and about 1/4 cup of water.
Cook covered till the peas soften.
Now add the cashew paste and stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the dry roasted spice powder and salt.
Stir-fry for a minute.
Add the milk and mix well.
Bring to a gentle simmer and turn off the heat.
Add the fresh cream (if you are using it) and mix well.
Serve warm with rotis or pulkas.
Add about 1/2 tsp of sugar if you like a touch of sweetness.
I have found that you do not need any cream because the cashew paste and milk give it the required richness.
If you don’t like to use too much cashew, substitute with 1/2 a sweet onion. Be sure to roast the sweet onion in a little oil before grinding.
I don’t boil the peas because they become mushy.
If you don’t mind a hint of bitterness, chop the fenugreek roughly (but not too fine) to release the bitterness.
This is a variation of the classic Andhra dish called Patholi and is something I like very much. It is a dry side-dish that combines protein-packed Chana dal with iron-rich Methi. It also helps in reducing the bitterness of the methi leaves.
Chana Dal/Husked Bengal Gram – 1 Cup
Methi/Fenugreek Leaves – 2 Packed Cups
Rai or Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Udad Dal or Husked Black Gram – 1 tsp
Red Chillies – 2 or 3
Haldi or Turmeric – 1/8 tsp
Hing or Asafoetida – 2 Large Pinches
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to Taste
Soak the chana dal in about 2 cups water for at least 4 hours.
Drain the water completely from the chana dal.
Without adding any water, grind the chana dal to a coarse paste with salt and turmeric.
In a heavy-bottomed kadai/wok, heat the oil.
Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
Add the udad dal and fry till it is light brown.
Add cumin seeds and split red chillies.
Stir-fry for 10 seconds.
Add the fenugreek leaves.
Stir-fry till the leaves wilt and reduce in quantity.
Fry for 2-3 seconds.
Add the chana dal paste.
Stir-fry till the chana dal paste is cooked and mostly dry.
Serve hot with rice and ghee.
Use as little water as possible in the dal paste. This will help it cook faster and with lesser amount of oil.
If your dal paste is watery, strain it through a cloth to get rid of as much water as possible.