In the cooking community, chefs and home cooks (like me!) wonder what fenugreek is and what taste it brings to my food. This spice has been noticed due to its distinct taste and other factors, both big and small.
Fenugreek has a complex mix of flavors that no other spice can come close to. When you eat it raw, it’s more of a bitter and acquired taste, but when cooked, it tastes different.
You wouldn’t believe what’s the strong flavor present in fenugreek! Read on to find out!
The Taste Of Fenugreek In Its Varieties
Fenugreek is a plant found in western Asia, southern Europe, and the Mediterranean region. It is also called ‘Kasuri methi.’ It plays a big role in Indian cuisine and is a staple in many dishes. The leaves, seeds, and sprouts of the fenugreek plant can be used to make flavorful food.
The strong flavor in fenugreek resembles maple syrup. Yes, maple syrup! This flavor is so strong that the spice can be used as a maple syrup flavor substitute in foods.
When mixed with other spices such as cumin, coriander, or paprika, the bitterness of fenugreek is replaced with a rich, pleasant taste.
There are three types of fenugreek; seeds, powder, leaves, and sprouts.
Fenugreek seeds are very bitter, but this taste can be overpowered when you use them properly. It is advised to pan-roast or fry the seeds before adding them to your food. When you do this, it will enhance its natural sweetness and reduce that bitterness.
However, be careful NOT to overcook or burn the seeds when frying, as this will amplify its bitterness. To the point where you can’t even put it in the mouth! Your roasted seeds can also be ground to make fenugreek powder, just ensure it’s stored in an airtight container.
Or, save yourself the trouble and buy ground fenugreek from the store!
Fenugreek leaves’ flavor profile is totally different, making you wonder if it actually came from the same plant!
The leaves are extremely aromatic, fresh, and mildly sweet with a slight bitterness. You get two types of leaves, fresh and dried, depending on what you like. Fresh leaves are the most robust of the two.
Fresh fenugreek leaves are grassy and mild with a hint of bitterness compared with that maple syrup, fennel, and celery taste. With this comes a pleasant fragrance, making your meals smell as good as they taste.
Dried leaves have a mixture between the bitter, earthy taste of celery and the luxurious taste of maple syrup.
You can substitute dried fenugreek leaves with three times the measurement of fresh leaves if you’d like.
These sprouts have a half-and-half taste, combining sweet and bitter tastes. It has a close resemblance to curry. They will leave a pleasant aftertaste on your tongue.
However, some of your guests might find the bitterness unbearable, so you should use them in a mix or dishes that complement that bitterness.
If you’re a gardening fan and have started growing your own fenugreek, don’t forget to cut the sprouts before they turn green so you can reduce some of the bitterness.
How to Use Fenugreek – A Guide
Fenugreek is an amazing ingredient and brings life to every dish it’s in, so here are some tips on maximizing its flavors and fragrance.
- Buy in moderation. It’s always better to buy fenugreek in moderation, so it’s in its best condition whenever you want to cook with it.
- Don’t be afraid to mix and experiment. Fenugreek’s tastes will be enhanced when mixed with other spices such as cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, coriander, and black pepper. There’s so much more!
- Remember to toast, fry, or roast fenugreek seeds. The seeds can be overwhelmingly bitter if you eat them raw, so it’s best to roast or fry them beforehand. This will enhance its sweetness and cut that unwanted bitterness.
- Don’t loosely add fenugreek to food! We love fenugreek in this house, but its flavors can overpower others in the pot. Always measure how much you add to your dish and make sure to balance it with other spices.
- If you can, grind your fenugreek seeds. Buying pre-ground fenugreek is obviously convenient, but you will get more from its taste if you grind them yourself. It increases its taste and longevity.
There’s Blue Fenugreek?! Does It Taste Different From The Green One?
Blue fenugreek (also known as utskho suneli) is a large part of Georgian cuisine. It belongs to the same family of our green fenugreek, but it has a milder, sweeter flavor—kind of like walnuts and the fall.
Blue fenugreek seeds have a mild scent, but when they are ground, they slowly develop a luxurious, warm aroma and taste. It’s commonly used in vegetable dishes and other dishes that contain walnuts. You can also use it in meat, poultry, soups, and spinach dishes.
Its flavor is almost addicting!
Blue fenugreek leaves are a prized possession in some parts of Switzerland and are even one of the components in a cheese called Schabziegerkle. (Phew, that’s hard to pronounce!😅)
Frequently Asked Questions
What does fenugreek do for females?
Fenugreek has a long line of history in women’s health, as it is said to help with labor and childbirth. It is also used to treat gynecological issues such as uterine problems and painful menstruation.
Fenugreek is claimed to act as a galactagogue, which is something to help a breastfeeding mum increase breast milk supply.
Does fenugreek taste like licorice?
Fenugreek has a complex and sweet smell that actually tastes like a mixture of celery and maple syrup. It is often compared to licorice, but don’t confuse it with anise! It has a very prominent licorice flavor.
Is it safe to take fenugreek daily?
This spice is safe to be consumed in moderate amounts, however, too much of a good thing might turn out bad!
It’s best to eat fenugreek whenever you want, just not every day. Too much fenugreek can induce side effects such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. These symptoms are rare, but it’s best to be prepared.
Does fenugreek increase breast size?
Fenugreek affects the mammary glands and increases breast milk production, naturally increasing bust size. This change is not drastic, though, so don’t worry!