Jan 24, 2015

Methi (No)Malai Matar

Some days are different. In a lazy luxurious kind of way. Some days when the routine is banal, when the mundane will just not cut it. Days when we linger just a little longer in bed, luxuriate in the bath, indulge in a hot tea while soaking in the morning sun. I am sure you have these days in your life too.

Such days call for a special meal. A rich, creamy, sinful dish around which a deeply satisfying repast can be planned. Today was such a day. A day to be extravagant, yet sensible. A day to savor. Time to gratify the tongue, body and soul with gastronomic hedonism, yet, not feel the pain of sin later. Time for another recipe to get the Healthy Slurps tweak.

Before you wonder any more, let me share this winner of a recipe with you. Winter is a season of amazing variety of produce in India. Fresh green peas are an irresistible part of this season. Every year, I buy fresh green peas in bulk, shell them, and freeze to use later through the year. After gorging on them in various avatars through the winter, that is. Punjabi and other North Indian cuisines have several dishes with peas as the star ingredient. Of these, I have been wanting to try this Methi Malai Matar for a long time. Translated from Hindi, it means a gravy/curry of fragrant fenugreek leaves and green peas laced generously with fresh cream. I could never bring myself to add cream in the quantities mentioned in most recipes. I just had to find a good healthier substitute.

Today, the idea just presented itself and I went along with the inner flow. The result was a rhapsody of aromas, flavours, an appearance that was alluring and beckoned us to the dining table! Substituting skim milk curd/yoghurt for cream was a fitting idea. The almond meal also added to the richness and added to the good fats in the meal. I prefer almonds over cashews to thicken a gravy as the former has a better fatty acid profile. In plain speak, it means, almonds have more heart-healthy fats than cashew nuts have.

The dish gets done in 4 simple steps. Soak the almonds in warm milk. Fry all ingredients for grinding. Grind along with almonds.  Simmer chopped fenugreek leaves with the gravy. Add boiled peas, season, and the dish is ready!

I am so happy to share this recipe with all of you. So here goes -

Fragrant Fenugreek married to Perky Peas!


  • Does NOT contain corn, soya, gluten.
  • Suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
  • Contains lactose from milk. Those with lactose intolerance can substitute milk with same volume of water in the recipe.
  • Contains nuts. Those with nut allergy can substitute almond in the recipe with pureed silken tofu.

Preparation Time – 15-20 minutes, Cooking Time – 20-25 minutes, Serves – 4-6.

You Need -

Cookware – Saute pan, Small saucepan/Glass bowl, Mixer grinder

Ingredients -

  1. 3/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  2. 2 cups loosely packed fenugreek leaves ( Methi saag)
  3. 1/4 cup almond meal OR 2 tbsp whole almonds powdered with skin OR 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu
  4. 1/2 cup skim milk OR 1/2 cup water
  5. 1 heaped tsp salt
  6. 1 cup skim milk yoghurt
  7. 1 tbsp grated jaggery Or sugar (optional)

To fry and grind -

  1. 1 heaped cup chopped onions
  2. 3-4 tomatoes
  3. 2 tbsp chopped ginger
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves
  5. 2-3 green chillies depending on heat preference
  6. 1 inch stick of cinnamon
  7. 3 cloves
  8. 2 green cardamom pods
  9. 1/4 cup chopped green coriander leaves
  10. 1 tbsp cooking oil

Method -

  1. If you have whole almonds, soak in measured warm milk OR measured warm water(use warm water if you have lactose intolerance). If you have almond meal, soak those in warm milk too. Set aside. If you have nut allergy, omit the almonds, thaw the silken tofu, puree and set aside.
  2. Heat a fry pan, add oil, toss in the chopped onions, saute for a minute. Then tip in the chopped ginger and peeled garlic. Fry another minute. When the onions take on a light pink tone, add the chopped tomatoes. Also stir in the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Fry over a medium flame. Do not brown the onions. After 3-4 minutes of frying, when the tomatoes look slightly mushy, take off the flame.
  3. Grind this mixture along with chopped coriander leaves, and the soaking almonds+milk/water, or the pureed tofu. Blend to a smooth paste.
  4. Return this blend to the first fry pan, and set to simmer again.
  5. Chop the cleaned fenugreek leaves finely and add to the simmering sauce. Add 1/4 cup water if too thick and let the greens simmer in the sauce for 3-4 minutes. Stir in between to avoid charring at the bottom.
  6. Meanwhile boil the fresh or frozen green peas over stove top or microwave. Cover the peas with 1/2 cup water and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft and cooked. Add this cooked peas along with any remaining cooking water to the simmering sauce too.
  7. Add salt, sugar, curd, and mix in well. Bring to boil over medium heat. Switch off and let the gravy rest for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm with phulka/kulcha/pita bread/jeera rice/any mild pulao/pilaf. i served it with fragrant jeera rice and a carrot salad.

A satisfying repast

Creamy rich Methi Malai Matar minus the guilt 


Suma Rowjee said...

This is one truly flavorful dish I am always tempted to order, though the malai part is a put off with the rest of the fat floating on top. Have some peas in the fridge, will make this soon!

Rajani said...

Hi Suma, Can't agree with you more. The floating grease is such a put off. I was pleasantly happy when this dish did not require more than that 1 tbsp. oil. All of us at home liked it a lot. I will be making it again soon. Let me know how yours turned out.

padma veeranki said...

Healthy and delicious recipe:)
Hope to see you sometime in my space:)