This next Pantry post is a relatively new spice for me, but one which I have enjoyed getting to know. Also called methi in India, it is a common spice in Indian, North African and Middle Eastern foods. I had never heard of it until a friend made a fenugreek chicken curry when we were living in South Africa. On my return to Switzerland, I started looking for some, and eventually, a friend picked some up for me on a trip to the UK. At that point I was unaware that there were even multiple different forms of the spice and was not sure what I needed to try to make the Fenugreek Chicken again, so ended up with all three forms (leaves, whole seeds and ground seeds) and have been experimenting for about a year now. Based on search results when I attempted to buy some on the internet, in addition to its culinary uses, fenugreek is touted as a supplement to increase milk production in breastfeeding mothers, but what truth there is to this I don't know. I only know that it would have been much easier to get supplements than it was to find the actual spice.
Its leaves and seeds, whole and ground, are used in cooking. The seeds are cuboid and almost gold in colour, and have a sweet smell, almost like maple syrup, and quite a sweet, warm taste. Raw or undercooked the seeds are quite bitter (early attempts at my Fenugreek Porridge had to contend with this) but when it is cooked most of the bitterness goes away. If not, a little acid, lemon juice for example, does the trick. Interestingly, I have not encountered the same issue with the ground form of the seeds. In powder form I add it to porridge or Golden Milk without any issues whatsoever. The leaves are very small, smaller than I had expected. I've experimented less with them than the seeds, but have played around a bit. They also have a slight bitterness to them, but not unpleasant an easy to balance out with other flavours.
Aside from my own experiments, I have been trying out traditional dishes using Fenugreek, mainly from my Indian cookbook A Taste of India. I only recently found out about its uses in North African and Middle Eastern cooking though, and will be heading in that direction soon.
Here are some of the recipes I've used fenugreek in (alternatively, type 'Fenugreek' into the search bar. I have - I think - tagged all of the recipes using it):
Fenugreek and Sweet Potato Curry
Butternut and Chestnut Cream Soup
Miss Sophie's Mulligatawny Soufflé
Here are links to find it on Amazon and try it out for yourself!
(These are affiliate links, meaning that I get a small commission if you order from there, but that does not in any way affect how much you are charged).