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What is Fenugreek Spice?

Fenugreek Spice


Fenugreek spice can also be classified as an herb or vegetable depending on what part of the plant is used and how fresh it is. 

The dried leaves are considered herbs, the fresh leaves can be considered vegetables or herbs, and the seeds are considered a spice.

Fenugreek seed is small and rectangular-shaped similar in appearance to a corn kernel, used ground or whole with spice blends and curries.

What does it taste like?

The fenugreek spice is aromatic, bitter, and sweet with nutty components, when warmed the aroma is distinctive of caramel or maple syrup. 

Fenugreek Spice Uses

Both the seeds and greens of the fenugreek plant are edible. 

Ground seeds are used within sauces, stews, curries, flatbreads, curry powder, potato dishes, rice dishes, spice blends, tea blends, and dry rubs. 

The dried leaves are often used to garnish Indian dishes while the fresh healthy green leaves are suited to salads and light cooking.

Fenugreek Spice Substitutes 

  • Mustard seed: similar to fenugreek seeds in earthy flavors.
  • Maple syrup: alike in flavor and aroma although maple is far sweeter, used in cooked recipes or within baking.
  • Mustard greens: the similarities for mustard can also be substituted to replace fenugreek leaves.

Compliments and Pairings 

Fenugreek is matched with similar ingredients through India, Africa, and the Middle East including spinach, potato, rice, poultry, fish, meats, vegetables, chickpeas, cauliflower, mushroom, yogurt, pork, turmeric, lemon, and bread. 

Expiration and Storage

  • Whole seeds: store in an airtight container away from direct light and moisture and use within one year.
  • Ground: store in an airtight container away from direct light and moisture and use within six months.
  • Leaves: if possible keep on the stalk in water until ready to use, otherwise wrap the individual leaves in a kitchen cloth and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Fun Facts

  • Fenugreek is used to make artificial maple syrup flavoring due to its naturally similar aroma. 
  • The plants are sold whole with their roots still attached and washed to extend the fenugreek leaves short shelf life. 
  • Consuming too much fenugreek can make your sweat smell like maple syrup. 

Where does it come from?

Native to Asia and the Mediterranean fenugreek spice is a member of the Febaceae family. Abundant in India, where it is known as ‘methi’, and widely used throughout North African and Middle Eastern cooking. To learn more details about the scientific background of the spice visit Wikipedia.

Popular Recipes

  • Aloo methi
  • Zhug
  • Hilbeh
  • Methi dal
  • Methi bhaji 
  • Fenugreek spinach
  • Lamb and fenugreek dumpling stew
  • Methi machli
  • Methi matar malai
  • Pastourma
  • Middle Eastern fenugreek cake

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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