Russo’s Market in Watertown has an extraordinary produce selection – appealing to just about every ethnic group from South East Asian to Armenia to Europe and the Americas. I can often find unusual herbs and vegetables that I’ve seen in my travels or in ethnic cookbooks. It makes for more adventurous culinary experimentation. There are several things I see on a regular basis that I have no idea how to use. One such thing is methi leaves.
When I signed up to participate in “Taste & Create,” I didn’t expect to encounter such exotic ingredients. Taste & Create is a monthly food blog event, in which participants are randomly paired with other food bloggers and asked to choose and prepare a recipe from their partner's blog. I was paired with “Tasty Curry Leaf.” The recipes on this blog have a decided Indian, vegetarian bent. As I browsed through the recipes looking for something fun to try, and I was beside myself to find a recipe that used an ingredient I had seen in the markets, but had never cooked.
I’m not as familiar with Indian cooking so I was intrigued by some of the techniques. Most notably, the raw potatoes are salted before cooking. The excess water is squeezed out. And unlike typical French fried potatoes, the salty seasoning penetrates and satiates.
The methi leaves are considered a vegetable and not an herb. As they are sold with the roots attached, like cilantro or basil, this was not overtly obvious. When cooked, they retain more substance than spinach but have a similar texture: a cross between crunchy and creamy. If you can't find methi leaves, watercress would make a fine substitution.
Though the spice combination is straightforward, the flavors are quintessential Indian: a wonderful and simple recipe. The one modification I made was the addition of a few drops of lemon juice. The next day, we made omelets with the leftovers.
(long purple Chinese eggplant/long green eggplant)
Methi leaves: 1 bunch
Onion: 1 medium
Chilli powder:1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder:1/2 tsp
Turmeric Powder:1/4 tsp
Salt:as per taste
Cube the potato and eggplant.Apply salt to them and deep fry in hot oil after squeezing them.For potato cubes,you soak them in salted water in order to season them and also prevent them from turning brown. For eggplant you simply apply salt and keep aside.You squeeze the salted eggplant to remove the bitterness if any.Make sure you squeeze the potatoes and eggplants as well before deep frying.
Now you can avoid deep frying by roasting them in the oven.This is my enhancement to the masala.You squeeze the salted potatoes and eggplant cubes and roast them in a 475F oven for 20 minutes (potatoes) and 10-15 minutes for eggplants in a greased dish.
Chop onions into long thin pieces.Cube tomatoes as well.You can also use tomato puree or tamarind paste/concentrate instead of tomatoes.Chop the methi leaves.Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan.Add chopped onions,saute till brown.Then add tomatoes cubed/pureed/tamarind concentrate,fried /roasted cubes and salt and powders.Saute till oil separates,add methi leaves and saute for a second then add water and cook till done.
Serve with rotis or rice.