Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves/Shanbalileh), a Persian and Indian Herb

How to use Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves), an essential ingredient in Persian and South Asian cooking.
Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves)
Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves)

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

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.

Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves)

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:

  1. Sow some fenugreek seeds.
  2. 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 :).
  3. 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:

Eshkeneh, Persian Onion Soup
Eshkeneh, Persian Onion Soup

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

Per 100g Fresh Fenugreek Leaves

Proteins 23 g
Water 8.8 g
Phytosterols 140 mg

Calories
Total Calories 323
Calories From Carbohydrates 190
Calories From Fats 54
Calories From Proteins 80

Carbohydrates
Total Carbohydrates 58 g
Dietary Fiber 25 g

Fats 
Total Fat 6.4 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g

Vitamins
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

Minerals
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!

More Ingredients and Edible Plants

How to Use Fresh Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves)

How to use Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves), an essential ingredient in Persian and South Asian cooking.
5 from 52 votes
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Course: Culinary Garden
Cuisine: Indian, Persian
Keyword: herbs
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch methi leaves as called for by your recipe

Instructions

  • 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.
Discover more Culinary Plants!Check out The Edible Garden

11 thoughts on “Methi Leaves (Fenugreek Leaves/Shanbalileh), a Persian and Indian Herb”

  1. When I make hummus, I often add a bit of whatever fresh herb I have on hand. Can I do this with Methi, or should the leaves be cooked first?

    1. Hi Esther, you can eat methi leaves raw, but some people find the taste a little on the bitter side. My suggestion would be to go start low, taste and increase as it suits you.

  2. There is a cheese called sapsago, made with fenugreek leaves, and very low fat. Never had it, but good luck trying to find it–wish I could.

    1. Hi John, I’ve had sapsago a couple of times in Switzerland. The herb used in making it is not this fenugreek, but a relative of it, commonly known as blue fenugreek. The flavour and aroma is nowhere near as pungent, and blue fenugreek is not a herb known in Asia, as far as I know.

  3. Elizabeth Hart

    Thank you, Azlin. This is very informative! I’ve always wondered about fenugreek leaves, as I see them at our ethnic markets, but never knew what to do with them. Thank you for the suggestions, and I’m going to look at your Persian onion soup now.

  4. Methi is my favorite vegetable. I have prepared different curries using this methi leaves, but never tried using mozarella cheese. It sounds interesting! Very nice and informative post.

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