(click to enlarge)

Eggplants with Methi
India - Bengal
  -   Methi Begun
6 side  
40 min  

This flavorful curry of eggplant and fenugreek greens is popular in Bengal. It is a very simple recipe which works well as a side dish or as a light vegetarian main dish with rice - if you don't mind slightly bitter greens (see Note-6). Prep time is mostly for stripping the Methi and can be done well ahead.


Methi Greens (1)  
Eggplants (2)
Chili, green (3)
Mustard Oil (4)
Kalongi (Nigella)
Methi Seeds (1)
PREP   -   (40 min)
  1. Rinse METHI. Pick off leaves and tender tips, discarding tough stems. If there are immature seed pods, take them too (they are so long an thin they look like blades of grass. You should end up with somewhere near 10 ounces (see Note-6).
  2. Bunch up the Methi and, holding tightly, slice the bunch thin with a very sharp knife. This is easier and more consistent than chopping, but use care - blood is not an authentic ingredient in this dish.
  3. Cut EGGPLANTS as you wish - this varies with the cook. For the photo example I cut into pieces roughly 3/4 inch on a side. There is no need to peel the eggplants. If you will not be frying them immediately, hold in water acidulated with Lemon Juice or Citric Acid.
  4. Split CHILIS lengthwise from under the cap to the tip. Mix with Kalongi and Methi Seeds.
RUN   -   (15 min)
  1. Drain Eggplants if they have been held in water.
  2. ONLY IF using Mustard Oil (Note-4), heat in the sauté pan until the first trace of smoke, then turn off heat and let cool just a little.
  3. In a spacious sauté pan heat Oil quite hot. Stir in Chili mix just until aromatic.
  4. Stir in Eggplants and fry stirring until they are cooked through and getting quite soft. Add a little water if it seems too dry, especially if the eggplants were not held in water.
  5. Stir in Methi leaves and Salt. Fry stirring over moderate heat until Methi is wilted and cooked through (3 to 5 minutes).
  6. Serve hot with steamed long grain rice or Chapatis.
  1. Methi Greens:   Methi is Fenugreek. You may be familiar with the seeds, used as a spice, but in India, the Near and Middle East, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Armenia and Georgia, the greens are much used. Given that ethnic mix, you can be sure there is no shortage of fresh methi greens here in Los Angeles. For details see our Fenugreek page.
  2. Eggplant:   I use the small Indian eggplants which are very available here in Southern California, but Italian, Japanese or similar eggplants will work fine. For details see our Eggplants page.
  3. Chili:   The Indian green chilis sold around here are very mild compared to in India, and not always available, so I use Serranos, which are highly available in North America. For details see our Chili Page.
  4. Mustard Oil:   This is the traditional cooking oil of Bengal. It is available in Indian and multi-ethnic markets here in Southern California - always labeled "for massage use only" due to lack of FDA approval. This is based on presumptions that have not stood up to recent research. For most uses, Mustard Oil is heated until the first wisps of smoke appear (about 410°F/210°C), then it is quickly taken of the heat for a minute before ingredients to be fried are added - this removes it's acrid taste and makes it quite pleasant. For details see our Mustard Oil page. A reasonable substitute is Pure Olive Oil (not virgin), but no need to bring that up to smoking.
  5. Methi Seeds:   This is Fenugreek seeds, found in the spices section of most markets. For details see our Fenugreek page.
  6. Comments:   There is no fixed ration between Methi and Eggplant. The recipe given here is at the high limit for Methi. Persons unaccustomed to bitter greens may wish to increase the Eggplant and reduce the Methi a bit. A few recipes add a little Jaggery (unrefined sugar) to counter the bitterness. Many recipes add "a pinch" of Turmeric, but this has no effect on the bitterness.
  7. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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