Yellow lentils & Fenugreek leaves (Methi)
When A Short Course in Culinary Experiments was first published, I described the fenugreek seeds and fenugreek plant/leaves in the materials section chapter of the book, and the medicinal benefits of these for diabetic patients (according to Auyervedic medicine). At that time, I wrote that one might occasionally find fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) in Indian grocery stores. In the intervening years, the availability of methi has changed in my neck of the woods (Baltimore). Nowadays, fresh methi is available in Indian and Asian grocery stores, year round. There might have been a demand for methi and local farmers might have started growing them in greenhouses, close to Baltimore.
Methi is also available in the dried form in Indian/Asian grocery stores. This can be found in small size packets of 100 grams (3.5 oz) and is not very expensive. If you have never seen methi before, and would like to try a culinary experiment with it, perhaps you can start with the dried form of the plant. This will also be applicable to those who have no easy access to fresh methi plants.
A basic procedure was described for the preparation of yellow lentils (dal) in A Short Course in Culinary Experiments (preparation L3). Numerous variations and experiments were also suggested for the preparation L3. If you are an enthusiast in culinary matters, you can write a booklet for the preparation of dal, just from the variations and experiments suggested in A Short Course in Culinary Experiments. However, the experiment with methi was not among the suggestions.
Both fenugreek seed and plant have a mild bitter taste (some will say it is very bitter) and thus you have to be prudent in the use of this plant for cooking. The procedure L3 was described for 1 cup of dal. You can adopt the same cooking procedure, but add 1 tablespoon of dried methi leaves when the dal is almost cooked (about 5 minutes prior to turning off the heat). Follow the seasoning procedure that you have mind for the dal, as usual. Depending on the palatability of methi, you may increase the quantity of methi leaves for the next preparation of dal or try to procure fresh methi leaves. Weight-for-weight, the dried form of methi is cheaper, though a notch below par on taste. Of course, if you don’t like the taste of this plant, these points are irrelevant.
I will be posting a few more preparations with methi leaves. Those who are interested in the use of methi leaves for their medicinal value will find them useful.
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