Methi Matar Malai is a creamy curry that showcases the flavors of savory fresh fenugreek leaves in contrast with sweet peas. With its rich, white base and green fenugreek leaf marble, it provides some beautiful contrast when plated next to more common red or brown curries, such as paneer makhani.
This is another recipe based on one of my mom’s recipes. She makes it often for get-togethers, especially my dad’s birthday because it’s one of his favorite dishes.
- Fenugreek leaves – these are the highlight of the dish
- Peas – I used frozen, you can use fresh if you have them. Frozen tend to be sweeter so if you use fresh it will change the flavor profile a little bit. Blanch them first to make sure they cook fully.
- Cream – this is a rich, decadent recipe, largely due to the cream. For a healthier dish, you can use milk, or half milk, half cream.
- Cashews add a nutty richness to the creamy sauce
- Green chili
- Garam masala.
Notice this recipe does not have any turmeric or red chili powder that you will find in many other Indian curries. To me the bright white sauce is an important part of the look of this dish, but some people make this curry with turmeric and or red chili powder which completely changes the color.
Methi matar malai is a great dish to serve on special occasions. In my house, it most often appears at birthday gatherings or on holidays. It is best served as part of a thali, alongside colorful, contrasting dishes like paneer makhani or palak paneer.
- You don’t need to chop your vegetables finely, even the garlic and ginger. Just need to cook to soften then blend them. Chunky chopping is fine.
- When you add the water to the vegetables, let it boil until all of the veggies are soft. So you get a smooth puree. It’ll only take a couple of minutes because you have already cooked it.
- Cashews are soft and you don’t have to worry about … you can make a cashew paste … you don’t have to worry about them being soft before blending, the blender will take care of it.
- Use fresh peas. Blanch before adding.
- To reduce the fat in the recipe, use milk instead of cream. It will lose some of the richness. Or just use half cream half milk.
- You can make a vegan version by replacing the ghee with a neutral oil of choice (such as avocado), double the cashews, replace the cream with any plant-based milk.
- Add turmeric and chili powder if you miss the flavors.
Prepping Ahead and Storage
If you’d like to prep this dish ahead of time, you can:
- Make your cashew-onion paste beforehand and just store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
- Pre-prep the methi (fenugreek). Wash it, rough chop it and freeze it. Then add the frozen methi directly to pan, no need to defrost ahead of time.
This Dish Freezes Well
Methi Matar Malai is a cream based dish and will reheat easily. Keep in mind cream can easily absorb freezer odors and flavors, so be sure to double wrap it if you plan to store it for a long time.
Methi Matar Malai | Fenugreek and Peas Cream Curry
- 2 Tbsp ghee or neutral oil of choice separated
- 1 ½ cups methi leaves 1 bunch
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 medium yellow or white onion thinly sliced (~1 cup)
- 1 inch piece of ginger roughly chopped (~1 tsp)
- 6 garlic cloves cut into half
- 20 cashews
- 1 green chili like Serrano, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ tsp garam masala separated
- ¼ tsp amchoor
- ? tsp nutmeg freshly ground
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 ½ cups water
- Wash the methi well by immersing in a bowl of water and agitating it, then letting it rest for a minute. This will allow the sand to sink to the bottom. Repeat the process a few times to ensure the methi is thoroughly cleaned. This will also help with the bitterness. Once the methi is cleaned, pick out the leaves and tender stems and discard the tough stems. Give the methi leaves a rough chop.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the ghee or oil in a pan and add the onions. Cook until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, cashews, and green chili. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend into a smooth paste. Adding up to ½ cup of water if needed.
- Wipe the same pan dry and heat the remaining ghee or oil. When it shimmers, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for about 10 seconds. Then add the methi leaves and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cashew and onion paste to the pan. Mix well. Add a up to ½ cup of water if the mixture is too thick.
- Add the frozen peas and salt. Cook for 5 minutes until the oil rises to the top. Look for little puddles of oil rising to the top.
- Add the cream, ½ tsp of garam masala, and amchoor and cook for about one minute.
- Finish with the remaining ¼ tsp of garam masala and nutmeg. Take off heat and serve warm.