My home was warm today with the oven temperatures. It felt nice since it was snowing heavily outside. What did I bake today in my oven? Cakes? Cupcakes? Brownies? No..none of the sweet treats..not a single one today :). My oven was on today to dehydrate my greens..the greens that I bought yesterday from the Indian store.
I have very fond memories from my childhood.. Of my grandmother picking and cleaning the green leaves of methi (fenugreek leaves) and bathua (mostly sold under the label of amaranth leaves in USA). She would then wash them and dry them out in open air under the crisp and warm winter sun. My mom would make the best Aloo Methi (potato and fenugreek stir fry) and bathua raita (yogurt mixed with boiled and puréed amaranth leaves) and sometimes bathua paranthas ( flat breads made with flour and amaranth leaves) served with fresh churned white butter. Those were the childhood days…..winter came loaded with variety of greens….like Fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves, spinach, mustard leaves, radish leaves and all turned into simple and yummy food. In december, I would try to post mostly “Green” posts :). We used to eat seasonal and would wait the whole year round for winter delicacies.
The Indian store is atleast 40 minutes drive from my place so I can’t go there whenever I want to. Bummer! So whenever. I make a visit, I buy more than required out of greed and end up wasting much of the stuff that goes unused.
Oven Dried Fenugreek Leaves :
I bought a big lot of Fenugreek leaves. As soon as I came back home, I picked them..just leaves and discarded the hard stem.. Washed them few times in the cold bath in a big vessel and spread them out on paper towel overnight for drying. Today morning, I dried them in the oven at 350*f on the lowest rack, till they were crispy dry to touch. It took me less than 10 minutes. You have to keep a watch on it..it can’t be one precise timing. It depends upon how wet they still are. Then cooled them at the room temperature and stored them in air tight container. Now I can use it in my lentils and beans preparations. It can be used as a sprinkle in dry stir fries anytime. It is also readily available if I want to season my flat breads with it. Methi or Fenugreek Leaves are a rich source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and dietary fiber in its naturally occurring form as in other vegetables. The availability of vitamin K is as good as spinach. The protein rich fenugreek leaves can be treated as a wonder herb. For more info on health benefits of this wonder herb, click here
Oven Dried Curry Leaves :
Similarly I oven dried a big lot of Curry leaves. I use curry leaves but not much so I have started dehydrating them and storing them for longer use. I have to admit that the fragrance is reduced a bit with this method but atleast I have increased the shelf life of this beautiful herb with excellent medicinal qualities. Click here for more information on the benefits of curry leaves.
Oven Dried Kale Leaves :
Kale is another power house in the greens family. I had bought a big bag of Kale last week. Half of it was consumed in the preparation of Palak paneer and half was still lying in the fridge. For healthier Palak paneer recipe, click here. This time,I added 1 cup of boiled kale to my Palak paneer and I have to confess that it tasted awesome with Bajri and Gehu or millet and wheat flatbreads. Try the creamed Kale and spinach curry..it is a great me finger licking combo.
Well the other half packet that was siting in my fridge, went in the oven for dehydration and came out as a beautiful crispy kale, which I cooked and stored in an air tight container. I am going to use it as required with beans and lentils, in a stir fry or in my flat breads. To know more about the health benefits of Kale, click here
Note : I involved my 3 year old in picking and cleaning the leaves…she thoroughly enjoyed it while we chatted away and it was a good workout for her cognitive and focus skills 🙂.