My mom is an avid gardener. Whatever she sows it always grows beautifully. Our garden was always in full bloom because of her and on the other hand my knowledge of gardening starts and ends with these three words “watering the plants”. But I have never seen her fretting over too much in details like what fertiliser, insecticide or potting mix, mulch etc. I guess soil was naturally nutrient rich and only fertilizer that I have seen her adding to plants are the vegetable refuse from the kitchen. So I guess she has got a green thumb. Inspired from her, I tried to grow radishes in a pot, while I was in US. The plant attained a good height but there was hardly any growth in the bulb. I had used best of everything but got no result. Someone wrote in her blog that “if you can not grow radishes, you can not grow anything.” I concluded gardening is not my thing.
A year later, I decided to try my hand at gardening once again. So this time I sourced the soil from Lalbagh nursery at Bangalore. The soil was good, nutrient rich, enriched with horse manure.
On an experimental basis, I sow some fenugreek seeds, water the soil and voila within three four days it sprouted. I couldn’t express how much happy it makes me feel.
How to sow the methi / fenugreek:
- I have used an old tin biscuit box as a planter. I wanted to do it on trial basis.
- With the help of sharp chisel, make six holes in the planter. Four at the bottom and two on each side of the box.
- Layer the bottom of the box with small stone pebbles. It will help to keep the soil aerated enough.
- Methi /fenugreek plants have shallow roots, so around six-inch height container will perfectly do the job. Fill two third of the planter with the soil and sprinkle water over it.
- Soak a tablespoon of methi dana / fenugreek seeds in a small bowl. Fill the bowl with water till its top. Soak the seeds for almost 24 hours or more.
- After twenty-four hours, you will find that the seeds germinate and tiny shoots are visible.
- Dry the seeds very well with the help of tissue paper and spread it on a paper.
- Meanwhile keep the soil moist by regulating the watering at proper intervals.
- Make furrows on the top soil with your fingers and sprinkle the seeds in cluster. Loosely cover it with more soil. Seeds should be able to breath properly, so don’t press the soil too much.
- Keep it in shade and regular sprinkle water over it to keep the soil just moist enough.
- After three to five days, you will see tiny seedlings sprouting from the soil. It is time to keep the planter in sun. The sun stays for four hours in my balcony and I find it was sufficient enough for the plant to grow.
- Keep watering the plant, do not clog the soil with more water. The top soil should always looks moist and aerated.
- Methi takes almost 6 weeks to mature enough to harvest.
- I didn’t let the plant grow longer. Once it starts blooming, and leaves were tender and fresh, flavours were just right and strong, I harvested it.
I don’t like big size methi leaves, the one that you find it in grocery stores.
Since yield was very low as my planter size was small, I decided to use it in methi thepla and add few on my regular salad. The tender leaves with such strong flavours were just amazing.
How to store your harvest : wash and dry the methi leaves and store it in airtight box. It will stay fresh and crisp for a week or more.
I have heard so much about Gujarati thepla in movies and serials, that I was impulsive to try it at least once. Theplas are like parathas only that they are rolled out very thin and has no stuffing inside. The strong flavour of methi together with hing and other spices, gives the thepla a flavourful aroma. I had added chickpeas flour to the dough and it makes thepla little crisper. But it is not mandatory and specially if you are not consuming the theplas right away, then do not add chickpea flour or besan in it. The theplas will become tough and brittle like papad.
Theplas can be served with raita or pickles but if you want to make it full filling breakfast or light lunch then serve it with Gujarati potato curry or bateta nu shaak. A simple and beautiful potato curry with no spices and with just few ingredients. It is mostly made with boiled potatoes but try to make it without the boiled potatoes. As the potatoes will cook slowly it will absorb all the flavours of toasted mustard, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
- Wheat flour: 2 cups
- Chickpea flour: ½ cup
- Methi leaves /fenugreek fresh: 2 cups
- Salt to taste
- Ajwain / carom seeds: 1 tsp
- Hing / Asafoetida : a small pinch
- Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
- Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
- Coriander powder: 1 tsp
- Curd: 3 tbsp
- Oil: 1 tbsp
- Warm water as required
- Oil for frying and greasing
- Dry flour for making theplas
- Potatoes (peeled and cut into small size cubes) : 3 cups
- Mustard seeds : 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
- Curry leaves : few
- Green chillies (finely sliced): 2 tbsp or more
- Ginger (minced): 1 tbsp
- Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil : 2 tbsp
- Wash the methi leaves and let it dry in a colander. My methi leaves were small, so I did not chopped it. Else chop the leaves.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, besan or chickpea flour and all the spices and salt. Mix it well with your fingers.
- Make a well in the center and add the oil in it. Mix the flour and oil together.
- Spread the methi leaves over the flour for even distribution.
- Add the curd and knead the dough.
- Add warm water in succession, little at a time and knead the dough well.
- Dough should be soft but not sticky. It should yield under finger pressure.
- Lightly grease the dough with the oil and let it rest.
- Cover the dough with moist kitchen towel and let it stand for half an hour.
- Divide the dough into equal parts, and make rounds of golf-sized balls.
- On to a lightly flour dusted surface, roll out the balls into thin flat disc. Do not add too much dry flour while rolling out the thepla.
- Heat the tawa or flat pan on medium high. Once the tawa or pan is sufficiently heated enough, reduce the heat to minimum.
- Place the thepla one at a time over the heated tawa.
- Once the air bubbles start appearing, flip it over. Apply oil on the half-cooked side.
- Flip it over again and apply oil on the other side.
- Flip it again and fry the thepla till it is cooked through and nicely browned.
- Once done remove the thepla from the tawa and store it in bread /roti basket or simply cover it with kitchen towel.
- Repeat the process with rest of the thepla.
- Serve the warm methi thepla with pickles, raitas or potato curry.
- In a kadhai or deep bottom frying pan, heat the mustard oil till its smoking point.
- Temper the oil with mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves.
- Add the minced ginger and fry for couple of minutes.
- Add the potatoes and let it saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the green chillies, turmeric powder and salt.
- Fry it for another 5 minutes or more. Do not brown the potatoes.
- Add enough water to cover the potatoes, lower the heat, cover and let it cook on low heat till done.
- Once the potatoes are cooked through, increase the heat and dried up the remaining water. This is a dry curry without any gravy.
- Check for the seasonings and serve the potato curry or sabzi with poori, paratha or methi thepla.
Homegrown greens and herbs are pure bliss, free from chemicals, dirt, pesticides and pure organic.