This dish is elegant and easy and is a particularly excellent a side dish for fish. It should really be made with smaller potatoes than the ones pictured here. It should be made with the tiniest potatoes that you can find.
If you are feeling adventurous take a trip to an Indian market to get fresh or dried fenugreek greens (Methi) and Mango powder (Amchoor). If you cannot make a trip to an Indian market, you can substitute celery leaves, fennel greens or watercress for fenugreek greens. All of these share the primary qualities of fenugreek greens, their intoxicating smell and bitter flavour. You can substitute lemon juice for the mango powder.
Dried fenugreek greens smell outrageously good to me. I had a cat named Clyde in highschool, who was obsessed with the smell of Protea flowers. Whenever we had a bunch of them on the kitchen table it was impossible to keep him away from them. He would sit with his nose in the flowers, smiling and slowly blinking. That’s how I feel about the smell of dried fenugreek greens. If you taste the fenugreek greens in this recipe once they have wilted and before you season them they are bitingly bitter. Something about the addition of tiny amounts of garam masala, mango powder and salt at the very end mellows the flavour to perfection.
It seems that fenugreek has been used to cure just about every possible ailment at some point in history. A tea made from the seeds is supposed to help people suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments. Fenugreek was used to treat diabetes at one time and these days women use it to increase lactation when they are breast feeding. It’s a safe bet that the stuff is good for you!
TINY NEW POTATOES AND AROMATIC GREENS STEAMED IN BUTTER
adapted from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni
- 1 pound tiny new potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 1/4-1/2 pound fresh fenugreek leaves, celery leaves, fennel greens or watercress or 2 Tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
- 4-6 tablespoons sweet butter
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (I used the Punjabi Garam Masala that I make)
- 1/2 teaspoon mango powder or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- coarse salt, to taste
- If using fresh greens, wash them in several changes of cold water, drain them and chop very fine.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a lidded heavy pot. Add the scrubbed potatoes and fry for 5-6 minutes or until the skins begin to shrivel on all sides.
- Add the chopped or dried green and saute for 3 more minutes or until the greens wilt.
- Add the remaining butter and the black pepper. Lower the heat and cook covered for about 20 minutes. Check the potatoes every so often to be sure that they are not burning. Ideally, the potatoes steam in the butter vapour with no added moisture, but if you need to you can add a splash of water.
- When the potatoes are done, sprinkle them with garam masala, mango powder and salt. Fry the potatoes for 5 more minutes, turning them until they are coated with spice and glazed. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.