If you are out for an Indian and want to try something a little unusual, methi curry is the answer. But just what is methi curry? Well, my friends, you are in luck. Today I will talk you through the ingredients, what methi curry tastes like, and explain why it is so great. You better be hungry because this one is a winner.
Read on to find out more about methi curry…
What is Methi Curry?
Methi curry is one of the most authentic tasting curries out there. Its name (and the bulk of its flavour) comes from the inclusion of fenugreek, an aromatic and tasty herb. Methi curry sits firmly as a 'medium' curry, with undertones of spices including onion, garam masala and tangy tomatoes.
However, the above doesn't quite do it justice.
There are plenty of other good things within! Just what makes it so special? Read on to find out.
Where Does Methi Come from?
While you'll find methi curry on Indian restaurant menus, its origins aren't so clear cut. Methi, aka fenugreek, was first cultivated and used in the near east. However, in the modern world, India is indeed the world's major producer of fenugreek… As a result, it has subsequently found its way into many curries. Methi curry is so named because it uses more methi than is considered 'typical'.
Methi curry is a sort of fusion food. It seamlessly fuses Indian herbs and spices with the BIR style of cooking.
You won't find a 'methi' curry per se on the Indian subcontinent. They use the herb so prolifically that most curries could be described as a 'methi'. The use of the term 'methi curry' is used primarily in Indian restaurants to show that it has been made in a certain style using fresh methi as the main ingredient instead of an 'extra'.
Speaking of how methi curry is made, check this out…
What is Methi Curry Made of?
Methi curry contains quite a few tasty ingredients that add a signature taste to the dish. You'll find subtle variations in the recipe depending on how your chosen restaurant makes it. Generally, within, you'll find the following: -
- Tender Chunks of Chicken
- A little oil
- Tomato puree
- Onions (both fresh and as the base curry sauce)
- Spices, such as chilli and garam masala
- Of course, heaps of fresh methi!
- Aromatic herbs, including Indian bay, coriander seeds, fennel, anise and fresh coriander
It is the last two elements that give methi curry its distinctive taste. The methi and aromatics are added early in the cooking process. When the sauce is added, it takes on all of that wonderful aromatic flavour…
Here's how it tastes…
What Does Methi Curry Taste Like?
There are so many tasty elements within methi curry, and believe me, you will be able to taste them all. The underlying taste is one of sweet and slightly tart tomato. The flavours are not too strong, so you'll find the herby elements (especially the methi) will be brought to the fore.
The inclusion of fresh methi is what sets this dish apart from the others on the menu.
If you haven't tried fresh methi before, you are in for a treat. The best way to describe how methi tastes is a subtle sweetness with a slight 'maple' taste. In fact, the term 'fenugreek' comes from the Latin word faenugraecum, which loosely translates as 'greek hay'.
Yes, that's right, think of how hay smells. It's slightly sweet and a little bit earthy. This is exactly the kind of aroma that you will get by including fresh fenugreek in curry dishes.
This flavour is brought about by a compound within methi called 'Sotolon'.
Aside from the fenugreek, other flavours in methi curry are brought to the fore.
The recipe also includes heaps of freshly chopped coriander. This gives a citrusy and refreshing zesty taste to the curry (provided you don’t think it tastes like soap).
Combined with toasted coriander seeds, you should get a subtle hint of lemon-esque flavour running through the dish.
Methi comes with a semi-loose sauce. This is normally a light golden brown colour. It isn't as dark or orange as either a bhuna or a madras. The backbone of the sauce is carried by onions and tomato puree. To supplement these flavours in most methi curry recipes, you'll also find fresh chopped fried onions.
The 'curry' taste comes from only a couple of spices. There is garam masala, which is the taste most people associate with curry powder. This is underpinned with a slight chilli heat brought about by the inclusion of dried Kashmiri chilli powder.
Most chefs use a few tasty aromatic dried herbs to round the dish off. These include bay leaves, coriander seeds, fennel and star anise. These are added right at the start of the cooking process. First, they are gently toasted in a frying pan, then when oil is added, these flavours all infuse into the very oil in which the rest of the curry will be cooked.
Do You Use Fresh or Frozen Methi for Curry?
If you are ordering a methi curry in a restaurant, you will likely find that fresh methi is used.
Ever seen fresh methi before?
Don't worry, it isn't a common ingredient in 'western' supermarkets. The good news is that it doesn't lose any taste or flavour when it is frozen. And I've found that both fresh and frozen methi is used interchangeably. Most chefs will add a compressed block of frozen leaves that melt into the curry, just cooking through and ensuring maximum flavour.
Oh, and before I forget.
If you are having a go at making methi curry yourself, do not use dried methi as a substitute in this recipe.
Dried methi works well to hint at the flavours we talked about above, provided it is used sparingly. If you add too much dried methi to a curry, there is a good chance that it will turn really bitter and unappetizing!
Is a Methi Spicy?
Methi is not widely regarded as spicy curry. On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is atomically hot, a methi will sit somewhere in the region of a 4, or perhaps a 5. It does contain chilli. However, the quantity added is small, and normally Kashmiri chilli is used, which is a little milder.
Aside from the chilli and perhaps a little residual heat from the garam masala, there are no other hot elements added, meaning if you aren't a huge fan of hot and spicy food, then methi curry could be a perfect choice.
What Does Methi Mean in English?
'Methi' is simply an alternative name for fenugreek. Fenugreek is used in cooking in many forms: -
- Fresh fenugreek leaves
- Dried fenugreek leaves (called kasoori methi)
- Fenugreek seeds
- Toasted seeds ground down to a fine powder
Is Chicken Methi Healthy?
As curries go, chicken methi is relatively healthy. It isn't quite as 'on point' as some dried dishes, like tandoori. However, there are several things that chicken methi has in its favour: -
Chicken breast is relatively lean, meaning fewer calories.
Chicken methi contains relatively little oil, unlike other oily curries like bhuna or madras.
The Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is actually something of a 'wonder food'. According to the US National Institute of Health, methi has been used as a medicine and an ingredient. There have been suggestions that fenugreek lowers blood sugar levels. There are other studies that also suggest that methi can also: -
- Reduce cholesterol
- Lower Inflammation
- Act as an appetite suppressant
- Boost testosterone
While studies are still ongoing, it tastes great at the end of the day, especially in a methi curry. So, what is not to love?
So, there you have it. What is methi curry? A tasty medium curry that is packed full of sultry and subtle herbs and spices. It may also have specific health benefits too! Like we needed an excuse to try it anyway! Methi is definitely one to try if you see it on the menu. What it lacks in the heat, it more than makes up for in flavour. Looking for the perfect curry? You might want to take a quick peek here.