Methi or fenugreek leaves as it is called in English, is an unsung hero, in my eyes. This green leafy vegetable is full of nutrients, and its benefits are plenty. It helps in aiding digestion, reducing cholestrol, reducing blood pressure, and diabetes, aids weight loss, great for skin and hair, helps new mothers for lactation, and many others! Indian households eat this leafy green right from when they are young. The fenugreek seeds are used in Indian cooking in many ways and imparts a wonderful taste to any dish! Methi is a winter leafy green and hence it is limited in season.
I usually get a huge bunch from the farmer’s market, when the season starts, and as and when, I remove the leaves off the stems, wash it, dry it and store it in the freezer for use during the months when it is not available. It is slightly bitter in taste, but with all of the Indian spices, it goes so well to provide the perfect taste to any dish. Theplas are a quintessential Gujarati dish. They are essentially flavored rotis or flatbreads eaten typically with yogurt and pickle. Methi theplas are rotis made with fresh fenugreek leaves and a bunch of spices. They are best when eaten fresh off the tava or pan, but they store well for upto a week or even longer!
My mom would make the combination of the methi theplas with a potato curry(bateta nu shaak), yogurt, and chundo(sweet shredded raw mango pickle). This used to be made often by her, and we all devoured this meal. It was soul satisfying and fulfilling. Her food was always so lip smacking tasty. I can still remember the taste of her food in my mouth.
This is my dad’s favorite meal, or one of his ultimate favorites :). My dad loves his home food. He is not fussy about eating out, but he prefers home cooked meals. He is not picky, and he usually does not comment on how good a meal is. If he eats it well, and takes seconds, you know it is good. When he visits me in the bay area, I make it a point to make this meal for him a few times, since he loves it a lot. He mentioned to me, that this meal tasted like mom’s, that was the biggest compliment I could get. To be able to have my food taste like mom’s … and to know that he enjoys it, is a good feeling.
Theplas are a food item we used to carry on our family trips anywhere in the country, along with pickle, especially for our train journeys. This is a food item, my mom would pack for us when we would go on our school trips(week long trip) in case there was some food that we did not like. They do not need to be kept in the fridge, and last for about a week. They can be eaten cold or hot. They are tasty by itself. When my brother came to the US for the first time, to study his Masters in Boston, I carried food for him, since I thought he must miss home food, and one of the things I carried were theplas. Theplas have a lot of mileage, and enjoyed by one and all.
INGREDIENTS FOR METHI THEPLAS:
The ingredients for methi theplas are:
- Whole wheat flour: I always use whole wheat flour, which is what makes methi theplas wholesome.
- Dry Spices: Asafoetida (hing), Turmeric, red chili powder, Salt are added as dry spices
- Whole spices, seeds: cumin seeds, carom seeds(ajwain), and sesame seeds are added
- Leafy greens: fenugreek and cilantro leaves are added. Fenugreek is the major component here. They are slightly bitter, and hence I add a bit of brown sugar to balance out the flavors in the thepla.
- Garlic is a must to give it that pungent, yet delicious taste.
- Yogurt makes the theplas soft, as opposed to if you do not add yogurt.
- Oil and water are required to bind the mixture.
If I were to make theplas for you, I know you would love them too! They go best with a potato curry(Bateta nu shaak), and I am sharing that recipe as well. This was the first curry I learnt to make from my mom when I was 9 I believe! It is the easiest one pot dish to make, and I bet anyone can make it! It is super duper easy and so damn tasty. This is my dad’s favorite curry, one that he can eat everyday. He always remembers his mom(my grandmom), making it for all her siblings, and how it was his favorite. I wanted to take a minute to talk about my dad. He is one of the most liberal parent I know of, growing up around my friends. He is a huge fan of Elvis Presley, and the Beatles, and my favorite pic of his, is his pic from his 20s when his hairstyle was same as Elvis Presley! He loves singing the songs from that era. He instilled the love of music in us as kids. He has never screamed at us, and always been supportive of whatever we wanted to do, and encouraged us in that direction. He was my math tutor till I graduated from school, and I got 98% cause of his due diligence and belief in me that I could do math ! His positive attitude, and outlook towards life are infectious! He has gone through many ups and downs in his life, but always with a smile on his face. His practicality towards life and his words of wisdom are truly to abide by. THIS is my dad, who I love very much!
Back to my meal! My kids love these theplas and the curry a lot. My daughter loves to spread cheese on it and my son loves to put my jam on it, roll it and eat it like a burrito! He even likes to take it to school! I love eating these for breakfast with my morning masala chai! My favorite way to eat it.
The bateta nu shaak (or potato curry) can be found in my cookbook – Mumbai Modern (which is sold on Amazon, or any independent book store!).
I hope you get a chance to make it cause I know you will get addicted to it, as much as my family is! If you do make it, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment in the blog post below to let me know how you like it.
Have a great rest of your November my friends!
A Gujarati Meal - Methi theplas(Fenugreek Rotis) and Bateta nu Shaak(Potato Curry)
1. The theplas can be stored, tightly wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the fridge. To warm it up, simply remove 1 to 2 on a plate, and warm for 30 seconds in the microwave.
2. The greek yogurt keeps the theplas soft. They are best eaten within 3-4 days.
- METHI THEPLAS
- Makes about 15 theplas
- 360 gms whole wheat flour
- 80 gms washed, and finely chopped fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 cup washed and finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp black sesame or white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp carom seeds
- 2 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (~60 gms) greek yogurt
- Pinch of asefoetida
- 2-3 cloves of grated garlic
- 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of warm water to bind the dough
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp to massage after dough is bound and made
- ¾ cup oil for making the theplas
- ¾ cup extra whole wheat flour
- BATETA NU SHAAK:
- 6 medium sized potatoes, skin peeled and diced into medium sized pieces
- 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 7-8 curry leaves
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 3 cloves of grated garlic
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 medium sized tomato finely chopped
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 heaped tsp coriander powder
- 1 heaped tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 1 heaped tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 cups of water
- ¼ cup of finely chopped cilantro
- METHI THEPLAS:
- In an extra large mixing bowl, add in all the dry ingredients and mix. Then add in the fenugreek and cilantro leaves, grated garlic and mix. Add in the greek yogurt, oil and water, and bind with both your hands to mix well as to form a nice dough. It should not be too hard or too sticky. If it is sticky, add in 2 tbsp of EXTRA flour at a time to see if it will bind. If it is too hard, add in 2 tbsp of water and mix. It takes about 5-7 minutes to bind the dough well. Once it is bound, add the 1 tbsp of oil and massage the dough to smoothen it out.
- Let it sit for ½ hour to an hour before rolling out the theplas.
- Heat a large flat pan, on medium heat. You can use a tortilla maker if that is easier. Or roll out the dough into 2 inch diameter, 1 inch thick round discs (~48 gms per round ball). Basically you are dividing the dough into 15 to 16 equal round balls.
- Keep a small bowl of whole wheat flour on the side. Dip each disc into the dough and put it on the rolling board. Start rolling with a rolling pin, rolling from the center, and rotating after a couple of rolls, to get the perfect round shape, just like you would pie dough. Keep extra flour on the side to help you roll it smoothly. I usually sprinkle extra flour on the top to roll it out. I usually roll it to about 6.5 to 7 inches in diameter.
- Gently place the thepla on the hot pan. Ladle a teaspoon or 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, around the thepla and rotate it around to make sure the bottom side of the thepla is coated evenly with the oil. Let it cook for a minute or until you see little bubbles on the top. Turn it around. There should be brown spots on the thepla. Press lightly on the thepla. Let it cook for another minute, on the uncooked side, till you see brown spots on the thepla. Remove it on a plate, and keep it aside.
- Continue the same process with all the round discs, until all are cooked.
- BATETA NU SHAAK:
- On medium heat, in a large pot, add the vegetable oil, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and let it splatter for 40 seconds or so.
- Add in the potatoes, all the spices, tomatoes, and mix. Add in the water and stir. Now let it cook for about 20-25 minutes. In the 20-25 minutes, you will see the water boiling, and the water reducing, and cooking the potatoes and making them soft.
- After 20-25 minutes, mash a few potatoes(about 6-7 pieces) completely with the back of a large slotted spoon, to make a thicker gravy. You will see that the liquid has reduced. If it is reduced a lot, add ½ cup of water. The curry is supposed to be gravy like, not too watery and not dry.
- Add the lemon juice and mix. Garnish with cilantro.