Fenugreek can refer to a spice or a herb from the Mediterranean region and which can also be found in parts of Asia. The seeds are rectangular and have a similar hardness to corn kernels. Fenugreek seeds are used as a spice, and the leaves are a culinary herb that can be a useful seasoning whether used dried or fresh. The taste of fenugreek is often likened to maple syrup, and it has been used by some commercial producers to make low-cost imitation maple syrups. At home, you can use fenugreek seeds or leaves for any of the following applications:
In curry powder
Fenugreek seed is an essential spice for curry powder. It is one of the essential spices in the blend, along with turmeric for color. It is often the most identifiable flavor of commercial curry powder blends with cumin and coriander playing supporting roles.
As part of a dry rub
The distinctive maple flavor of fenugreek seeds makes a great addition to a dry rub that you can use on meats. It will be essential for some roasted and grilled dishes from India and North Africa. It is also complementary to other South Asian spices like cumin, black pepper, and coriander.
Both fenugreek seeds and leaves can be used in stews and braised dishes. The leaves are a popular addition to vegetable dishes, including ones featuring tomatoes, peas, or beans.
In potato dishes
Fenugreek leaves are a popular ingredient in Indian dishes that feature potatoes heavily. For example, it is essential for aloo methi where the leaves are chopped and added at the end of the cooking time just before the dish is served. They are used in vegetarian potato stews and can be used to spice up Western-style ones like mashed potatoes.
To enhance coffee
In India, fenugreek is sometimes added to coffee to enhance both its flavor and health benefits.
To make Turkish pastirma
The cold cut known to Americans as pastrami descends from the dried and heavily seasoned Turkish beef product known as pastirma. The word comes from the Turkish word meaning “to press.” Pastirma is seasoned with a spice blend called cemen that includes fenugreek along with various other spices.
In panch phoron
Ground fenugreek seeds are essential ingredients for the Indian and Bangladeshi spice blend known as panch phoron. The seeds will have to be roasted before being ground. They will then be combined with nigella seeds, mustard seeds, and other panch phoron ingredients.
In garam masala
There are multiple versions of garam masala, and not all will include fenugreek. Which spices are added are all up to the cook and are typically decided by regional, family, or personal tastes. Fenugreek will match up well with all of the other spices usually included in garam masala blends, including cinnamon, coriander, and cumin.
In berbere spice
Fenugreek seeds are among the spices used in the Ethiopian spice blend known as berbere spice. The berbere spice blend is used in numerous Ethiopian dishes but is best known in the West for its role in the chicken stew called doro wat.
Sprouted fenugreek seeds are a useful salad herb. They are slightly bitter with much of the flavor of fenugreek and many of its health benefits. They also add a pleasant crunch to the dish.
Fenugreek tea has been an herbal medicine for lactating mothers for thousands of years. When blended with other herbs, it can be used to make a pleasant-tasting, soothing beverage that improves milk production.