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My family will accept any excuse to get together and party. Festivals, birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated with gusto, but that’s not all. Someone got a promotion, lets party! Uncle got a new TV? Lets get together and watch TV and eat lots of good food! Aunt V is back from a visit to Aunt M, lets get together to hear all the gossip and eat lots of good food. Cousins are visiting for a week. Lets have dinner together… everyday. They love getting together so much, sometimes they have a potluck just because they haven’t had a chance to get together in a few weeks.

Needless to say, the highlight of each of these gatherings is food (no wonder I turned out like I did). Menus are discussed at length when there are going to be a series of dinner parties and a great deal of effort is taken to ensure that a wide variety of food is prepared. Menus are a subject of much anticipation and my mother for one goes to great lengths to keep hers a secret on special occasions.  This used to irk my Granny a great deal – she always wanted to know what was cooking. If Granny called a day before a party, you knew what she had really called for. She tried to pry out as much information as she could and mom invariably refused to divulge details. They played this game for years, mother and daughter, and neither gave up.

These dinner parties have always been wonderful testing grounds for anyone who wanted to try out new recipes, or to even just introduce new recipes they’d picked up somewhere to the whole family. The more successful new dishes are fondly remembered with due credit to the cook – in fact, they often get named after whoever introduced them. Paneer Butter Masala is always V’s Paneer Butter Masala.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always looked forward to these family get-togethers. We are a tightly knit bunch and and just love hanging out together. Now that I am in Far-Away Land, I can’t help but feel a twinge of envy whenever my folks get together and another twinge of disappointment at not being able to join in. I join in virtually sometimes, calling up to find out what food I am missing. I was told just the other day that one of my aunts had made ‘my’ grated beet sabzi for the latest do and I grinned ear to ear for some time after the call. It was also on one of these calls that I first heard of today’s recipe, brought to the table by another of my aunts. When I heard the name Methi Rice, it intrigued me and when I got the details, I knew I had to make it right away – partly because I could tell how good it was going to be and partly because I wanted to eat what the rest of my folks were having!

 This rice makes a wonderful side-dish for an Indian menu. Its light and fragrant and if there was ever a match made in heaven, it is this Methi Rice and my Go-To Tomato Chutney. The rice has a more pronounced methi flavour and with a subtle tomato flavour while the chutney has the exact reverse. They bring such a balance to the palate that you have them together and give a sigh of satisfaction – the world has been set right.

Prep Time : 15 mins
Cooking time : 15 -20 mins
Serves : 4-6

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WHAT YOU NEED:

2 cups Basmati Rice (any any other long grain rice)
3 cups Methi / Fenugreek leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 medium Tomato, chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, slit lengthwise
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
A pinch of Asafoetida / Hing
Salt to taste

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Wash and soak the rice.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. When it is hot, add mustard seeds, turmeric, asafoetida and green chilli. When the mustard seeds crackle, add the minced garlic.
  3. Saute for a minute and then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir well.
  4. After a couple of minutes, add the chopped methi leaves. Mix and saute until the methi wilts.
  5. Rinse the rice and add to the pan. Stir well so that the tomato-methi mixture covers the grains of rice well. Add 3 cups of water and salt to taste and cook covered until all the water is absorbed.
  6. Serve with tomato chutney.
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