Methi leaves or Fenugreek leaves are an essential ingredient in Persian as well as Indian and Pakistani cooking. Fresh leaves are always preferable in the former, while in the latter 2, the dried version is used as often, and is known as kasuri methi.
The leaves have an earthy, grassy and slightly sweet aroma and are a touch bitter to the taste, which is intensified upon drying. When cooked, the bitterness becomes less obvious and blends in with everything else.
In South Asian cooking, the leaves, both fresh and dried, are used to flavour curries, dals, rotis and all sort of vegetarian dishes. The fresh leaves, known as Shanbalileh in Farsi (Persian language), are also an essential ingredient in Persian cooking, and we use them to flavour stews, make soups and salads.
You will also find fenugreek leaves used in other cuisines like Egyptian, Turkish and East African.
Fenugreek seeds, which are little light brown seeds and cuboid shaped, are also an essential part of South Asian cooking.
Substitute for Methi Leaves:
1 Tbsp fresh methi leaves = 1 tsp dried methi laves (kasuri methi)
1 large handful fresh methi leaves = 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, crushed ground
Apart from the above, there really is no substitute. You will have to use an alternative herb to make up for the methi leaves in your recipe, which will naturally, give you a different flavour. Depending on the recipe, fresh mint leaves or coriander leaves (cilantro) are a great alternative, not substitute.
How to Grow Methi Leaves at Home
Methi leaves are incredibly easy to grow. All you need are some fenugreek seeds, pot them up in some compost, and leave them to grow, much like you would any herb or vegetable.
All you do is:
- Sow some fenugreek seeds.
- Pot them up into 9cm pots when they are seedlings with a multipurpose compost, preferably with added John Innes no. 1. Just google that last bit if you don’t know what it means :).
- Repot them into bigger pots when there are lots of roots showing at the base of the small pots above. Here, with added John Innes no. 2, if you like.
One word of advice, be sure to let the leaves grow big enough before using. Fenugreek sprouts are very powerful and are known to give one bad body odour!
Where to find Fresh Methi Leaves in the UK
Online is always the way to go, there are so many online stores today that you can get just about anything! However, if you are lucky enough to have an Indian grocer near, you, chances are, he’ll stock fresh methi leaves.
Recipe with Fenugreek Leaves
Amazingly, I have only one recipe using methi leaves on my blog! Here it is, Persian Onion Soup, called Eshkeneh:
In the meantime, if you fancy any Middle Eastern or South Asian recipes, head on over to the Middle Eastern and North African page as well the Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan page for favourites like:
Fenugreek Leaves Nutrition Facts
Proteins 23 g
Water 8.8 g
Phytosterols 140 mg
Total Calories 323
Calories From Carbohydrates 190
Calories From Fats 54
Calories From Proteins 80
Total Carbohydrates 58 g
Dietary Fiber 25 g
Total Fat 6.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Vitamin A 60 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Thiamin 322 mcg
Riboflavin 366 mcg
Niacin 1.6 mg
Vitamin B6 600 mcg
Folate 57 mcg
Calcium 176 mg
Iron 34 mg
Magnesium 191 mg
Phosphorus 296 mg
Potassium 770 mg
Sodium 67 mg
Zinc 2.5 mg
Copper 1.1 mg
Manganese 1.2 mg
Selenium 6.3 mcg
Want more help in upping your nutrition level?
Bodynutrition.org has some more great information on healthy things you can add to your cooking. Just click on the link!
How to Use Fresh Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves)
- 1 bunch methi leaves as called for by your recipe
- Finely chop your methi leaves with a sharp knife. You can use the flowers too, but I try to use as little of the stalk as I can, as the leaves is where the flavour lies.
- Add to the recipe as required.