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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

For the love of winter: Fantastic Fenugreek n Coriander Shortbread

Crumbly Methi n Coriander shortbread topped with a limey mashed potato n fresh green coriander chutney

The season has changed again and so has our lives with the turn of the wheel of time, for some of us the change is slow n unnoticeable at times, for some it is drastic! For me it has been drastic, I have lost my father, forever on December the 30th night. I don’t know how to go by it or what to say.  What just comes to my mind once again is that line ‘nothing is ever constant, everything is always changing, the change is the only constant’. Now that I know to be true.

                                We are in the middle of winter; there is abundance of greens n oranges n reds n purples in the fields and in the vegetable markets. A walk in the morning or the afternoon through such markets can make us quietly peaceful n content about our lives. Here in this part of India the temperature is fluctuating between 10 to 20 in a day, India is a huge country, so while some people are coming back travelling from places where roads got block because of severe snow-fall, people from the other parts are having a very pleasant atmosphere while some are still sweating! As strange as it sounds, it will be a pleasure to watch the variety of new food showing up across the length n breath of India only during the season of winter.

                                                              One green that is very special about winter is the Fenugreek, known as ‘Methi/ Methi ke Saag/Methir Saak’ in India. It has a unique savory flavor n it comes with the touch of bitterness; this bitterness makes it extra special. The fresh fenugreek greens or ‘Methi ke saag’ as they are called are often stir-fried in ghee or mustard oil with a few flavorings like garlic, small cubed potatoes, sliced egg-plant,  cumin seeds, chili powder, onions, tomatoes, as we travel across the land this combination keeps altering.

                                                                                           The flavor of the Methi goes so well with the savory dishes; in fact I have never encountered a sweet dish with the flavor of methi excepting my own kitchen! There is special snack called ’Suhali’ in India which is a crisp flat round shaped biscuit of flour n ghee n dried methi leaves also called ’kasoori methi’. It tastes fantastic, at first bite I didn’t like it but then once it grows on you and then you want more of it. Right now in the snack n sweet shops of India packets of suhali are being sold.

                                                                                                            Why I mentioned suhali is because the shortbread that I made with fenugreek n coriander is similar in flavor with suhali. The big difference was in texture, while suhali is crisp n hard to bite; this shortbread is crisp n crumbly like sand.

In the beginning of December I was in Mumbai, while I was roaming on the roads during the afternoon in Powii n Marol, every day I watched vendors sitting with bundles of fresh methi. Back home I so wanted to do this shortbread of methi n coriander n so I did. I baked them until they were just very lightly brown, then I top them with a smooth mashed potato with the tang of lime in it and fresh coriander chutney. But even if you don’t make the mashed potato you know what will go so well with this shortbread! Tomato ketchup! Or Tamarind chutney! Next time I am already imaging small methi shortbreads with tomato ketchup on them and topped with diced cucumber, it will be sensational.

                           This methi shortbread was wonderful, I will advise you to eat them after a day, you will love them even more after a day when they are cold n crumbly, pair it with a coriander chutney or mango chutney or yogurt or tomato ketchup or just on their own.

Now it is time for me to tell you the recipe. Here we go, let’s make them.

For The Recipe:  You will need

For The Shortbread
Fresh Fenugreek /Methi leaves- 100 gm /1 cup, the leaves picked from the stalks, discard stalks
Fresh Coriander leaves- 4 tbsp, chopped
Butter unsalted-75gm
Plain Flour-112gm
Baking powder-1/4 tsp
Salt-1/4 tsp (skip if using salted butter)
Sugar- ½ tbsp, powdered
Black Pepper- ¼ tsp freshly ground
Red Chili powder-1/4 tsp

For The Mashed Potato
Potatoes- 3-4 medium, boiled till soft n skinned
Butter – 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Black Pepper- freshly ground, few pinches
Milk- about ½ cup
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp, slightly roasted then ground into powder
Lime juice- 2 tbsp
Kashmiri chili powder- ½ tsp
Vegetable oil-1/2 tsp
Parmesan cheese- 1 tbsp grated (Optional)

For The Coriander Chutney
Coriander leaves- chopped 1 cup
Garlic clove-1 medium, peeled
Lime/lemon juice-2 tbsp
Yogurt- 1 tbsp
Sugar- ¼ tsp
Pink rock salt- a pinch
Black Pepper- Freshly ground, few pinches
Green Chili- 1 chopped
Water-1 tbsp

1. Take a frying pan, add a blob of butter n 3 tbsp of water, add the methi leaves, put the pan in low heat, cover and give it around 7-12 minutes. Stir in between and add some more water when the pan dries up, after 12 minutes the leaves will soften, take them out into a mortar n pestle, when they cool slightly smash them with the pestle and make a coarse paste.

2. For the shortbread, lightly butter a baking tray; dice the butter straight from the freeze, put it in a mixing bowl to soften for 30 minutes. Sift the flour, the corn flour, baking powder on top; add the black pepper, red chili powder, the powdered sugar and fenugreek paste n the chopped coriander leaves. Rub together gently between your fingertips, as the mixture coheres, form it into a ball.

3. For the shortbread rounds, shake some plain flour on to the work surface, cut the dough in half, and then shape into balls on that surface. Put each ball into a tart tin and gently press out into an even layer, make them slightly thicker at the edges and crimp between finger and thumb. With a fork prick the surface all over and with a knife make 4-6 bisecting shallow cuts like the spoke of a wheel. When the shortbread will be baked it will be easy to divide it along those lines you draw with knife.

4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes -1 hour before baking. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, bake for about 18-20 minutes, when the surface will be slightly colored and just firm to touch, take them out and let them cool.

5. For the mashed potatoes, boil 4 cups of water with salt, cut each potato in half, put a cut cross mark at the top of each half, then add to boiling water, give them 15-20 minutes. Check with a knife in between, if it can be inserted easily they are done. Drain them, cool them slightly, then peel and with a fork start smashing the potatoes while they are still hot, add the butter, roasted cumin powder, salt, black pepper, lime juice, parmesan cheese, milk and mix well until it is completely smooth. Divide the mixture in half, keep one half covered n warm, take a frying pan, heat ½ tsp vegetable oil, when the oil is hot add the Kashmir chili powder, toss for 20 seconds, then add the rest half of mashed potato, mix well until it attains a uniform red color. Take out and cover.

6. Take a piping bag, stable it by placing it inside a glass, then fill the first half of mashed potatoes in one side with a spoon, then fill the other half of red mashed potato with a spoon, then close the top of piping bag and press it only a little from outside haphazardly.

7. For the coriander chutney put everything in a blender and whiz until you get a smooth to coarse chutney, that’s all. If not using a blender do it in a mortar n pestle.

8. Take the cold methi shortbreads, then pipe the mashed potato in a spiral pattern on top of them, sprinkle some coriander chutney over them and around the plate, add a dash of tomato ketchup if you wish. And now it is time for the bite! Bon appetit!

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