What if I say methi (fenugreek) seeds make a great subzi and it is not bitter at all? Very few believe this and I know a few who make this subzi after removing the soaking water, boiling it in pressure cooker and removing even the cooking water to 'remove' the bitterness. Trust me you are not supposed to discard the soaking water at all and the methi seeds do not taste bitter in this subzi.
Sharing a methi papad ki subzi today, a unique flavour that brings just a light hint of methi bitterness and the alkaline taste of raw urad dal papad that gets balanced with yogurt.
Methi papad ki subzi was not made in my parents' home ever. I know my mother would have scoffed at the idea of methi seeds in a subzi though she would love papad in any form. We occasionally used to make papad ki subzi with the sour buttermilk, sometimes just to finish the weekly stock of buttermilk that was leftover after the ghee making exercise back home, normally used for making kadhi or dahi wale alu.
But that was the end of anything to do with papad in a curry, methi was used in the tadka though, just 1/2 tsp of it. The hint of bitterness methi seeds bring into a dish when used in the tadka is quite a subtle flavour that enlivens many a curry in the eastern part of India, I must add.
Using methi seeds in bulk to make the curry was not something my family would have taken to. One of my Marwadi friend during school used to talk about this subzi but I am sure at that age we are not too sure to serve such unusual food to guests, so I never got to taste methi ki subzi while I loved the kanji vadas and the kair sangri pickles and many types of sweets that her mom made.
I was actually surprised to taste methi papad ki subzi in a roadside dhaba in Rajasthan a couple of years ago and it was not bitter at all. I was so intrigued that I asked the dhaba owner and he shared a useful tip to make this subzi. He told me not to touch the methi once it is soaked, just tip them directly into the cooking pan when cooking the subzi.
He said that if the methi seeds are punctured after soaking they turn bitter, else they remain good. I tried the subzi as soon as I was back home and this subzi has been a regular since then. Even the husband likes it, probably more because he tasted it in a roadside dhaba for the first time, but that is good for me.
Methi Papad Ki Subzi
(for 4-6 servings)
1/4 cup methi seeds
5 urad dal papads broken into bite size pieces
1 cup yogurt
1 cup water
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chili powder or to taste
Pinch of asafoetida or hing
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp mustard oil
Salt to taste
Generous amount of chopped coriander leaves
1. Soak the methi seeds overnight in a cup of water. Do not disturb once soaked. Remember you are not supposed to touch the soaked methi seeds which would puncture its mucilage layer.
2. Whisk the coriander and cumin powders in the yogurt, add water and whisk again to make it smooth. Keep aside.
3. Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the asafoetida and let release its aroma. Now take the pan off the heat and add turmeric powder and chili powder, mix well and let them get aromatic.
4. Pour the yogurt spice mix slowly into the pan and whisk, take the pan back to the stove and whisk to keep it cooking evenly.
5. As soon as the curry starts simmering, pour the soaked methi seeds along with the soaking water and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the broken papads, simmer for a couple of minutes and take the pan off the stove.
7. Sprinkle coriander leaves and serve hot with chapatis or parathas. The best combination with methi papad ki subzi is ghee soaked bajra roti. This methi papad ki subzi makes a great side dish for a big Indian spread as well.
8. Make this methi papad ki subzi next time when you are entertaining guests. Add some raisins and may be some fried cashews to make the subzi a bit rich. Raisins actually give methi papad ki subzi a nice dimension.
9. It is great for diabetics and a very good alkalising food. But most of all it tastes great.
(About the writer: Sangeeta Khanna is a nutrition coach and a culinary consultant. She curates and hosts food festivals of regional cuisines, develops innovative chemical free products for the food industry all over the world and writes about food for various publications. She write two blogs named healthfooddesivideshi.com and banaraskakhana.com)