I love everything green and that includes fresh greens and green peas. I stock up on fresh green peas when in season and buy fresh greens almost every other day. After Palak (spinach), Methi (Fenugreek leaves) is my absolute favorite. Mix it in with the roti dough to make quick flavorful parathas or cook it with the lentils for a good side dish for rice – it is so versatile just like the green peas.
Methi Matar Malai is a creamy fenugreek leaves, green peas gravy served alongside roti or naan. It is a popular curry recipe from Punjab and over here in Bangalore, I hardly see it in the restaurant menus. It is wonderful just on its own and I wonder why it is not featured as much as it has to be! Probably not many are fond of methi or the matar. Never mind, when it can be made so easily at home, why do we even have to worry about the restaurant menus?! 😀
Methi means Fenugreek greens, Matar means green peas and Malai is the cream. But this Methi Matar Malai is creamy without the use of cream. Strange right? Not really. I used a little trick I learnt along a few years ago. I hardly ever buy cream and if I do get it, there is this immense pressure to use it off. So, I had to find a perfect cream substitute. Often times I would just use milk in the place of cream. But then, with Methi Malai Matar, cream is an essential part of this dish. So my trick was to use milk powder in the place of cream. A thick paste of milk powder and water makes this gravy so creamy – with no cream being used at all. This is definitely a low calorie methi matar malai and one can devour it with no guilt at all 🙂
Methi leaves are slightly bitter. Cooking them with fresh green peas and a creamy onion gravy, helps take down the bitterness to a great extent. But then, for me that slight bitterness is what makes this curry absolutely delicious. The sweetness of the peas and cream combined with the mild bitterness makes this gravy perfect!
To make Methi Matar Malai
What I used –
- Methi/Fenugreek Leaves, 2 cups (tightly packed)
- Fresh Green Peas, ¾ cup
- Onion, 2 medium
- Ginger, 1” piece
- Garlic Pods, 3-4
- Green Chillies, 1 or 2
- Cashews, 5-6 whole
- Milk Powder, 2 tbsp
- Oil, 1 tsp + 2 tsp
- Jeera/Cumin Seeds, ½ tsp
- Salt, as needed
- Water, as needed
Prep Work –
1. Clean the methi/fenugreek leaves and wash in running water for 1-2 times. Chop off the hard stem parts and use only the tender stems. Chop finely and keep aside.
2. Chop onions roughly. Remove the peels off of garlic and ginger. Set aside.
How I made –
1. In a microwave safe bowl, add chopped onions, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Add a tsp of oil and toss well. Microwave high for 5-6 mins until the onions have been cooked and turn transparent. Let the mixture cool down. Add it to a mixer jar along with the cashews and grind smooth. Set aside.
2. In a pan, heat 2 tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add the prepared onion paste and stir fry on a low flame for 4-5 mins. As the oil is released from the edges, add chopped fenugreek leaves. And stir fry for another 5 mins until the leaves are wilted. Add some water if required. Add fresh green peas and stir fry for 5 more mins on low flame.
3. Add salt required for the gravy. Keep cooking on low flame for 5-7 mins until the gravy begins to boil. Make a thick paste of the milk powder and water. Add it to the boiling gravy. Mix well. Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
- Clean the fenugreek greens thoroughly so that there is no dirt or slit. Remove off the hard stems and use only the tender parts.
- I used only ginger, garlic and green chillies for the heat or spiciness. For a spicier version, red chilli powder can be added but that affects the beautiful color of this gravy.
- I haven’t used garam masala powder. Can be added if required.
- Fresh green peas work best for this gravy. In case of non-availability, use frozen peas.
- As my gravy was already watery, I directly added the milk powder and mixed it in. Either methods can be used.
- For a rich version, ½ cup of fresh cream can be added instead of the milk powder.
- Onions, garlic and ginger can be cooked on stove top too. Heat 1 tsp of oil and stir fry onions, green chillies, garlic and ginger. Microwaving simplifies the task.
- Don’t overcook after adding milk powder or cream. Don’t use high flame. The gravy can curdle.