The flavors of fresh fenugreek leaves/methi are quite unusual; a bit pungent, slightly bitter in taste, but they will add some Oooomp! to a dish right away.
During the summer months last year, I had both eggplants and fresh Methi in abundance.
Methi/fresh Fenugreek is very easy to grow. The cuboid, buff colored seeds are soaked overnight and sprinkled on the soil. The seeds are then lightly covered with some top soil and in a few weeks you will be seeing some healthy plants will have pierced their head out towards the sun. Fresh Methi leaves are harvested while the plant is quite young and the stem and leaves are tender. We usually pull out the entire plant and then more seeds are sprinkled to grow. In a way, you can have a steady supply of Methi leaves. Methi leaves freeze really well too. So if you have abundance, clean and chop up the leaves and freeze.
While growing up, we would often indulge into Aloo Methi, Methi Dal, Methi Paratha, Mixed vegetables with Methi and a few other savories with fresh Methi. especially during the cooler months of the year. I do not remember having it the way I have it today. When and where we started with this I do not recollect.
There are endless recipes you can make with fresh Methi (see below for some recipes) and as well with eggplants. So it is comes quite naturally that the two should be combined. Eggplants absorb flavors well and the texture stands up to cooking it any way you want.
Like any other Indian curries, there is no “one” way to make this one. While the same name “Methi Baingan” is used, indicating only the main ingredients used, each household will have their own spices and process, resulting in a dish which might differ quite extensively from one place to another. For example, some might or might not use onions. Same goes with the tomatoes too.
Here is how I make my Methi Baingan (and I promise it tastes way better than it looks).
Methi Baingan: Eggplant with Fenugreek Leaves
Ingredients: (serves 6 as a side)
- 2 large Italian eggplants (any variety of eggplant will work)
- 5 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2.5 cups (8oz by volume) packed onion, sliced in thick half moons
- 2-4 hot green chili pepper (Thai-bird kind) – or to taste
- 2.5 cups (8 oz volume) packed fresh fenugreek leaves and tender stem, chopped *
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste or about 1 cup of fresh grated tomato
- 1.5 tablespoon chili garlic paste (or 1 tablespoon garlic paste combined with 1 tablespoon red chili powder/cayenne/paprika)
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, julienned
- salt to taste
*Note: more fresh methi leaves may be added if you want to.
Slice the eggplants in about 3 inch slices. If you are using the small Indian eggplants, you can slice them in half or slit them in 4 leaving the stem intact.
Soak the eggplants in salted water for about half an hour.
Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When the cumin sizzles and add the onion, green chili pepper and salt; cook the onions at high heat until they start to brown at the edges and also soften. Add the chopped fenugreek leaves and cook while tossing for about 10 minutes. They leaves will wilt and darken in color.
Now squeeze the eggplants to remove any water and add them to the pan. Add the turmeric and cook the eggplants while stirring them often until they start to soften – about ten minutes.
In a bowl combine 1/4 cup of water, tomato and chili garlic paste (or chili powder + garlic paste), turmeric and add it to the pan; toss everything together and cook at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. You will see the water dry up and the oil starting to separate on the sides. Add the ginger now, reduce the heat, cover and cook until the eggplants soften.
Uncover and reduce any sauce until there is just enough to coat the eggplants.
Serve hot with Naan/bread or rice garnished with fresh cilantro.
Difficulty Level: Easy
- Baingan ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash
- Achari Baingan: Eggplant with Pickling Spices
- Baingan Patiala (Spicy Stir Fried Eggplants)
- Roasted Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Eggplant Caponata
- Eggplant with Tomato, Garlic and Mint
- Eggplant/Brinjal with Poblano Peppers
Some recipes with Fresh Methi:
- Aloo Methi/Potatoes with Fenugreek Leaves
- Dahi Methi Murgh – Chicken Curry in Fenugreek and Yogurt Sauce
- Methi Dal (Lentil Soup with Fenugreek)
- Methi Murgh-Chicken Curry with Fenugreek Leaves