In the cooking community, many wonder what fenugreek is exactly, and what it would taste like. Fenugreek has come to the notice of many chefs in recent times, both big and small. The leaves and seeds are usually harvested together, and both parts of the plant are used as a spice in Indian, Turkish, Egyptian, and Persian dishes.
Fenugreek is very popular in Indian cuisine, especially their curries. Many people must have had dishes spiced with fenugreek at Indian restaurants, wondering what makes it so different from what they make at home. This spice has a combination of tastes that is unique, one that no other spice can exactly replicate.
What does fenugreek taste like? When eaten raw, fenugreek tastes bitter. But, when you cook it, the narrative changes. Fenugreek brings a maple syrup aroma to dishes and can leave that hint of bitterness depending on its cooking time. The bitterness can be compared to that of burnt brown sugar, and the maple flavor is accompanied by a hint of nuttiness.
The strongest flavor present in fenugreek is that of maple syrup. The flavor is so prominent that the spice can be used to imitate maple syrup flavor in foods.
The leaves of fenugreek are used like bay leaves, you can grind the seeds into powder and use them as a spice too. Maple syrup is usually used as a substitute for fenugreek, but it is sweeter and doesn’t taste bitter at all.
Nutritional Benefits of Fenugreek
Fenugreek has been used in Chinese medicinal remedies and is present in daily goods like cosmetics, shampoo, and soaps. This spice doesn’t just go into your pot and make your food smell good. It comes with a hyperbolic truckload of health benefits. Fenugreek classifies as galactogogues. These are food and supplements that can increase lactation in mammals. It can be used for breastfeeding mothers or large dairy animal production.
The research on the ability of fenugreek to increase lactation is inconclusive and not scientifically proven, but many people have been using it and can attest that it does improve lactation in breastfeeding women.
In a more consistent and conclusive study, fenugreek featured in an eight-week strength training program. The study was published in the 2010 journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. They found out that taking 500mg of fenugreek supplement can facilitate a strength gain in the upper and lower body sections. In that same study, it was discovered that fenugreek can help with weight loss and is good for the overall health of the human body.
Fenugreek is known to have anti-inflammatory properties in the lab and has been used in ancient medicine because of its healing properties. The fiber present in fenugreek helps people with type-2 diabetes cut down on cholesterol. In 3.5 ounces of fenugreek, you have about 323 calories, over half of that is carbohydrates and about a quarter of that measure is made up of dietary fiber. Fat takes up only 6 percent and the rest goes to protein.
Culinary Uses of Fenugreek
Fenugreek is best in Indian curries. That is probably because it is native to them and they have had enough time to find out how to make the best of it.
Fenugreek is a spice, its versatility is boundless and it can be used in a lot of recipes, tons. For example, fenugreek leaves can be chopped and stirred into garbanzo beans and potato stew. The spice blends with the stew and you have something exceptional on your table.
Fenugreek can be used in side dishes, you can use fresh or dry leaves, a little bit of cream, and salt with steamed green peas. It can also be used to roast chicken, but the seeds only need to be toasted lightly else you get an acrid taste. Some curry spices use fenugreek in their ingredients but you might not know.
In the kitchen, the closest substitute you will find for fenugreek is the real maple syrup. Yellow mustard seeds or fennel seeds are sometimes used in place of fenugreek but it doesn’t taste the same. Tons of uses can be found for fenugreek in your kitchen, you just have to find which one suits you best.
Where Does Fenugreek Grow? How Do You Procure It?
The name fenugreek is an adaptation of the French word fenugrec. The French word is derived from the Latin word Faenum Graecum, which means Greek Hay. The cultivation of fenugreek is believed to have originated from a transcontinental region that comprises Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt.
It is uncertain if the wide strain of the genus Trigonella gave rise to the domesticated fenugreek but there are similarities. Burnt fenugreek seed found in Iraq can be traced back to 4000 BC, with the help of carbon dating. In the first recorded century, Romans used to flavor their wine with fenugreek.
Fenugreek can be purchased at specialty stores of local Indian stores. For convenience and less stress, you can buy from online spice stores.
Does Fenugreek Taste Like Licorice?
Fenugreek has a complex but sweet aroma that feels like a combination of maple syrup and celery. Fenugreek has a flavor that is similar to that of licorice and is sometimes confused with anise that also has a sharp licorice flavor.
Facts You Don’t Know About Fenugreek
- In India, fenugreek goes by another name, Methi.
- Fresh fenugreek seeds are quite easy to store and can last up to a year if stored in a cool container and kept away from bright light and moisture. It can last longer than the fresh or dried leaves.
- In different parts of the world, it goes by many names. In Egypt, it is called hilba or helba. In Amharic, it is called abesh or abish.