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Green for Trinity

20 June 2014

iStock

METHI has appeared in the market alongside a new and welcome glut of fresh herbs bunched in aromatic bundles - fresh mint for tea, coriander for soups, parsley for everything - and, suddenly, silver-gilt bullets of chicory are piledhigh and selling cheap. There's asparagus, too - to be seized while it makes its all-too-brief appearance.

Methi was a mystery to me (and to the stallholder, who could tell me only that it was for curries). It is pretty; it has deep green trefoils, like clover leaves - very appropriate for welcoming in the Trinity season.

Surfing the internet reveals that this is actually fenugreek, known to me only as a yellow, shiny, granular seed to put in curry, and not to my taste. The consensus is that methe is bitter, but essential in many dishes.

Our methi was not bitter raw, just rather like grass. But I put together some sunshine colours and flavours to drive out the incessant rain, and added chilli for heat, in this Coconut fish curry for two.

1 medium cod fillet
1 smoked mackerel
1 onion, thinly sliced
a few slices of leek
5 or 6 new potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each turmeric and  cumin
rice bran (or sunflower/sesame) oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 tin coconut milk
1 handful methi, roughly chopped
(or coriander leaves, or spinach)

Gently fry the onion, garlic, leek, potato, ginger, chili, and spices in that order, in a slug of rice bran oil. Add the coconut milk, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add the cod fillet, and continue to simmer till the fish is cooked and flaking. Add the smoked mackerel until it is heated through, and then throw in the methi. Stir, correct the seasoning, and serve immediately.

If you are cooking rice to eat with a curry or grilled chicken, try it with some coconut milk substituted for the water - about half and half. Add other aromatics if you have them. A little garlic, freshly grated ginger and coriander, or lemongrass and lemon- or lime-rind fried gently together in that order, and then stirred through the cooked rice, is very good with plain rice.

Jeff has sent me a recipe for Coconut-cream bonbons which are a very rich treat. Jeff is American; so the amount of biscuits is measured by volume as 6 fl. oz, and the desiccated coconut will be 4 fl. oz.

100g (4 oz) white chocolate
200g (8 oz) cream cheese
¾ cup coconut biscuits, crushed
1 teaspoon coconut cream or milk
½ cup desiccated coconut

Melt the chocolate gently over hot water, and beat it with the cream cheese. Add the crushed biscuits, a pinch of salt (if you like), and a little coconut milk or cream. Spread the mixture in a parchment-lined tray, and chill for a few hours. Shape it into balls, and roll them in the desiccated coconut. Store them in the fridge for up to a week.

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