Although many people probably haven’t heard of it, Fenugreek (known as methi in Hindi) is a very common ingredient in Indian food. Fenugreek imparts a very characteristic savory flavor that is slightly bitter but very delicious. Fenugreek doesn’t really taste a lot like maple, but it is used by many companies to give artificial maple syrup it’s maple-y flavor.
Indians use fenugreek in all of its forms: fresh leaves are used as vegetable greens, the seeds are used as a spice and the dried leaves are used as an herb. It is readily available in all of these forms in any Indian grocery. We get it at North Park Produce, a local produce market that carries Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and North African foods.
You can even soak and sprout fenugreek seeds and eat them straight! My family likes to make a pickled relish out of soaked fenugreek leaves, raw mango and red onion.
Fenugreek is considered to be very good for you in ayurvedic medicine. It is known to help with many things from cholesterol, to sore throats, diabetes and lactation.
I like to make this simple saute of Sweet Potatoes and fresh Fenugreek leaves. I prefer to use white sweet potatoes which can be a little harder to find in the U.S. than the typical orange yams, but they are worth seeking out.
Sweet Potato and Fenugreek Saute (Shakariya Methi nu Shaak)
- 1 lb sweet potato, I prefer the white ones but the orange will work too
- 1 1/2 cups fresh fenugreek leaves, stems removed
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
- salt, to taste
- Peel and chop the sweet potato into 1 inch sections.
- Put the sweet potato sections into a pot, fill with cold water add a little salt and bring to a boil. Let cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft and a fork is inserted easily without any resistance. Drain.
- While the sweet potatoes boil, roughly chop the fenugreek leaves.
- Heat oil in a wide pan. Test it by tossing in a couple of mustard seeds when the oil begins to shimmer. If the mustard seeds sizzle the oil is ready. Toss in the rest of the mustard seeds. (Watch out for splattering seeds)
- Add in the fenugreek leaves and stir. Let cook for about 30 to 45 seconds and add in the sweet potatoes, red chili powder and salt. Stir gently to avoid breaking up the sweet potato. Some of it will break apart, it’s no big deal. This creates a delicious mush!
- Let cook until the fenugreek leaves are cooked about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Serve warm with flat bread.