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
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.