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Methi chicken - chicken with fenugreek

Written By Reena on 25 Nov 2011 | 05:00

It is Steve's birthday tomorrow and to celebrate I thought I would post one of his
favourite recipes - chicken with fenugreek or “methi* chicken”. The fenugreek imparts a slightly smoky, bitter flavour that cuts through the tomato making this an unusual but exceedingly good chicken dish.

In Indian cooking, fenugreek (see illustration, right) is used as both a herb (the leaves) and a spice (the seeds). This recipe uses the leaves and, although your local supermarket is unlikely to stock them, they are easy to find in Indian grocery stores and cheap to buy - I picked up 4 large bunches for £1!

You may also notice that I have used slightly more fat in making this dish than I typically do in my other recipes.  For some reason this dish needs a little extra richness and my attempts at making a healthier version have produced dry and unappetising results.   As such, I strongly encourage you to avoid any urges you may have to reduce the oil/butter.   Trust me, your curry won't be swimming in fat and the taste will justify the handful of extra calories.

* Silent ‘h’ – so pronounced ‘Mett-y’

Wine suggestions from Kevin at halfwine.com

"This is a medium weight, intensely flavoured dish; the primary taste sensations being acidity from the tomatoes and bitterness from the chopped methi leaves. So what wines match these flavours? An intense sauvignon blanc from New Zealand such as a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc  . If you prefer a red wine, a young Pinot Noir from Burgundy such as the Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Rouge 2010  would be an interesting choice; it probably has the right weight and acidity and a tart cherries taste to handle this. On balance, at halfwine.com we would go for the Sauvignon Blanc."

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil
  • 25 grams butter
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick (approximately 3 grams)
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - peeled and crushed
  • 20 grams ginger - peeled and grated
  • 400 grams canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 2 green chillies - finely chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 3 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 4 chicken breast fillets - skinned, washed and cut into 2 cm pieces
  • 125 millilitres hot water
  • 1.5 teaspoons garam masala
  • 250 grams fresh methi - washed and chopped (NB Use any of the stalks that are thin and crisp as well as the leaves.  Discard any weeds, thick, rubbery stalks and brown leaves.)

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan on a lowish heat.
  2. When hot, add the cloves, peppercorns, star anise and cinnamon.  Let the flavours infuse into the oil for a minute or so.
  3. Now add the chopped onion and cook on a low heat until very soft.  Stir occasionally to prevent the onion from colouring.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and stir well.  Let the mixture cook for two minutes.
  5. In the meantime blitz the canned tomatoes in a processor until smooth.
  6. Add the processed canned tomatoes to the pan along with the tomato puree.  Stir well and then let the mixture cook for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Now add the salt, chilli powder, green chillies, turmeric powder and coriander powder to the pan and stir well.  
  8. Let the mixture cook uncovered on a low heat for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  9. Now add the chicken pieces and stir well.  Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  10. Now add the hot water and stir again.  Cover the pan and let it cook for a further 10 minutes. 
  11. Add the garam masala, stir and then cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.
  12. Now taste the dish for seasoning and check a piece of chicken to confirm that it is cooked.
  13. At this point the curry is almost ready.  If you are not planning on serving this dish immediately stop here otherwise continue.  The steps below assume that you are cooking the curry from a hot temperature.  If you have prepared the dish in advance, heat the curry thoroughly before continuing with step 14.
  14. Add the chopped methi leaves and stir well.  Cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
  15. Serve with rice or naan bread.

About Reena


  1. Lovely this is!The long list of ingredients would stun someone at first go,but the end result is absolutely enthralling:)Love the clicks and hope your husband had a lovely B'Day:)

  2. Hi Sudha. Thanks for the birthday wishes. Glad you liked the recipe. I hadn't really noticed the long list of ingredients but now you mention it, it is a little daunting! It is a simple recipe though so hopefully it won't put people off trying it. Take care. Reena

  3. Week 5: Sadly our local Indian restaurant is going to lose £500 a year from now on, why would we go ;) Again delicious and tasty, I am sadly running out of Verbs. Its been such a success we are having an Indian day over Christmas and I am secretly looking forward to that more than the Turkey.

  4. Hi Andrew. So glad you liked it given the effort you went to to buy the methi! Let me know what's on the menu for your Indian day - I'm intrigued!