Ingredients

Fenugreek

Other Names: Fenugreek: Abish (Amharic); alfarva or feno-grego (Portuguese); alholva or fenogreco (Spanish); bockshornklee (German); fenugrec, sénegré, or trigonelle (French); fieno greco (Italian); kelabet (Indonesian); hilbeh (Arabic, Hebrew); hu lu ba (Chinese); methi (Hindi); moschositaro or trigonella (Greek); shanbalile (Farsi); uwatu (Swahili). Blue fenugreek: Balsamo, fieno-greco ceruleo, or meliloto azzuro (Italian); baumier or trigonelle bleu (French); blauer honigklee, brotklee, or hexenkraut (German); blue melilot; blue-white clover; blue-white trigonella; curd herb; meliloto azul (Spanish); sweet trefoil; trevo-azul (Portuguese).

General Description: Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has small, roughly angular, brownish yellow seeds. The seeds have a bitter yet pleasing flavor and potent aroma, similar to lovage, that is characteristic of curry powders. The pebble-like seeds are often toasted to enhance their pungent aroma and have a powerful bittersweet, somewhat acrid taste, so use them in moderation. Westerners unfamiliar with fenugreek sometimes find its flavor unpleasantly “goaty.” Fenugreek seeds are most commonly used in Indian, Yemeni, and Ethiopian cookery. In Yemen and Ethiopia, they are soaked and ground for their flavor and their thickening powers to make the thick, soup-like hilbeh, a national dish in Yemen. Fenugreek leaves appear in the Georgian spice mixture khmeli-suneli. In India, the leaves are eaten like spinach or dried and used as a flavoring, and in southern India, the dried leaves flavor potato curries. Fenugreek leaves, along with dried limes, are used in _ghormeh sabzi], a thick Iranian vegetable sauce.

The leaves of a related plant, blue fenugreek (T. caerulea) are dried and used in Europe, especially central Europe, for their aromatic, spicy flavor, similar to but milder than dried fenugreek. A Swiss specialty cheese, sapsago, is flavored with blue fenugreek, which imparts a unique flavor and a pale green color. In the southern Alpine regions of the Tyrol (in Austria) and the Alto Adige (in Italy), ground, dried, and fermented blue fenugreek leaves are used in rye bread dough.

Storage: Store ground fenugreek in the refrigerator; ground fenugreek loses its fragrance rather quickly, so check the quality before you use it. Whole fenugreek seeds will keep quite well up to 2 years unrefrigerated.

Preparation:

  • Fenugreek seeds tend to have a hard shell, so crush them in a mortar and pestle or with a hammer, or soak them to soften before mashing.

Serving Suggestions: Add a pinch of ground fenugreek to Indian-style curries, lamb, or beef dishes, especially those using ground meat. Add ground fenugreek to chickpeas, falafel mix, and Indian potato dishes and naan. Add blue fenugreek to cottage cheese spreads.

Food Affinities: Fenugreek: Beef, chickpeas, curry, curry powder, dried lime, falafel, Indian breads, lamb, potato. Blue fenugreek: Cottage cheese, potato, rye bread, soups.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com