Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) has small, roughly angular, brownish yellow seeds. The seeds have a bitter yet pleasing flavour 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 flavour 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 flavour 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 flavouring, and in southern India, the dried leaves flavour potato curries. Fenugreek leaves, along with dried limes, are used in _ghormeh sabzi], a thick Iranian vegetable sauce.

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)
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.
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.
Culinary Uses
Food Affinities
  • beef

  • chickpeas

  • curry powder

  • dried lime

  • falafel

  • Indian breads

  • lamb

  • potato

Category: Spices and Herbs

Sub Category: Spice