Nature has its own way of keeping the body warm. And that is why it gives us certain food items that are best consumed in the winter. And in India, across the country there are many winter special recipes that add warmth to the body.
Winter is certainly the best time to enjoy a hearty meal of Paneer paratha, mooli paratha and polish it off then with a plate of Punjabi Kadhi or gajar halwa. This is also the time to have your share of green leafy vegetables. In Northern India, makai ki roti and sarson saag is the all-time winter favourite. And Methi i.e. fenugreek leaves also share the market space amongst other greens.
In a typical north Indian household, methi alu is a very common side dish during fall. Other than that it wasn’t really common to have methi in any other form or dish. Yes, sometimes Mum used to prepare Theplas using methi. But that was it. now, I can use methi in almost everything I prepare. Be it any simple sabzi, roti, Paratha or even pulav. The slightly bitter taste of methi is much loved in my family. And the health benefits of this wonder herb are immense:
- Excellent source of Iron:- being an excellent source of Iron, it is useful for anaemic patients and women specially during pregnancy and menstruation.
- Reduce cholesterol:- Like other greens, fenugreek leaves are also known to reduce Cholesterol levels
- Reduce cardiovascular risk:- It lowers the risk of heart attack being an excellent source of potassium which counters the action of sodium to help control heart rate and blood pressure.
- Control diabetes:- Fenugreek is beneficial for people with diabetes.
- Aid digestion:- Fenugreek helps flush out harmful toxins. It relieves indigestion and helps treat constipation. Also cure acid reflux or heartburn
- Low in calories:- Like most of the green leafy vegetables, Fenugreek is also very low in calories hence providing you good nutritional benefits without fat.
- Fenugreek seeds: – Apart from the leaves, fenugreek seeds are also known for their digestive and beauty enhancing properties.
Moving on from the benefits, it’s the taste which I am more interested in. The slightly bitter taste of methi brings in a different flavour altogether when mixed in any dish. I had this methi pulav at a friend’s place first time and have made it many times ever since. Addition of black chickpeas (Kala chana) is purely the result of my own invention out of many trial and error attempts.
The bland taste of black chickpeas blend with the pungent flavour of methi very well. If you plan ahead of time, this gets ready in no time. I usually clean the pluck the fenugreek leaves over the weekend and then any weekday night, I simply use canned Chana to prepare this Pulav. It hardly takes me 15 minutes from start to finish and am done for the day.
Usually I pair any pulav with a chilled raita, but this pulao works for me even without one. Such a beautiful and nutritious blend of flavours, and is very light on stomach too… of course, if you eat proportionately. I like to top it with loads of Ghee, but it’s a Vegan dish otherwise. You will surely like this, if you are a rice lover.
- 1 cup rice ( I use Sona masoori variety, you may use basmati or any other rice)
- 1 cup packed methi leaves
- 1 can of black chickpeas OR 1 cup of boiled Kala chana
- 5-7 garlic cloves, minced
- A small piece of ginger, grated or minced
- 2 medium onions, chopped roughly
- 1 medium tomato, chopped small
- 2 tbsp cooking oil ( I used Olive oil)
- 2-3 green chilies, slit length wise
- 1 1/2 cups water
- ½ tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp Garam masala powder
- 1-2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- Pluck and rinse the fenugreek leaves properly and squeeze maximum water out. Chop roughly and keep aside.
- If using canned black chickpeas- drain and rinse them once. Keep aside.
- If using raw chickpeas- boil them in pressure cooker with little salt. Drain and reserve the water for later use. Keep aside.
- Soak rice for about half an hour, rinse properly and keep aside.
How to make?
- Heat oil in a large sauce pan. Throw in cumin seeds and fry for 10 seconds. Once they start sizzling, add in bay leaves and leave for further 10 seconds.
- Add in minced garlic and fry for another minute or so. Add in grated ginger, green chilies and chopped onion and fry till onion gets cooked properly, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add in methi leaves, black chickpeas and all the spices except Kasuri methi. Cover the pan, and simmer this for 10-12 minutes stirring in between.
- Add in the chopped tomato pieces, and cook for another minute till it gets a bit mushy.
- Add in the strained rice with 1 1/2 cups of water and mix in gently. Bring the whole thing to a boil, and then let it simmer for the next 8-10 minutes till all the water is absorbed.
- Add kasuri methi at this point. Stir gently to fold in the rice once, and check if its cooked properly. If it needs more time, let it cook for 3-5 more minutes. You may also add 1-2 tbsp of water now if required.
- Turn off the gas once rice is cooked completely. Let it sit for a few minutes so the flavours are nicely absorbed.
- To make your meal even healthier, pair the Pulav with Vegetables Raita like Brinjal raita (eggplant/aubergine), Mooli Raita (Indian radish) or Ladyfinger raita (Okra/bhindi)
- If you are using raw Kala chana (black chickpeas) make sure they are soft enough and boiled properly. Since they won’t get a chance to be cooked further after you have added them to the rice.
- How to reduce the bitterness from the methi leaves:- Wash the leaves well, sprinkle some salt on it and keep it aside for 10-15 minutes. meanwhile prep other ingredients. After 15 minutes, using your hands squeeze all the water from leaves and then chop it.
- You may also add a pinch of sugar if the methi leaves you have used are too bitter in taste. Or use a variety of fenugreek which is called “desi methi”. These are smaller leaves, and taste less bitter than the usual variety. Though this is available for a short while in winters and am not too sure if its available pan India.
- You may skip black chickpeas and prepare this pulav using only methi leaves. Or you may substitute black chickpeas with usual white chickpeas. Your call really!
You may like another variety of rice where I combine chickpeas with tomatoes to prepare this Tomato beans rice. Another one of my favorite weekday dinner, easy and simple to prepare.
Or try the most popular recipe from my blog – Hyderabadi Vegetable Biryani, where I have explained how to make Biryani on stovetop or in oven.