What to do with fenugreek seeds?
I was taking a leisurely stroll through an Asian market and stumbled upon a bag of fenugreek seeds. Intrigued, I bought said bag without any intent on what I would do with them. That was 3 months ago and bag o'fenugreek still sits unopened in my spice cabinet. I'm asking you, oh wise Chowhound contributors, to set me in the right direction on how to use up these seeds. I know they're used primarily with other spices in Indian cooking but was looking for a way to highlight the fenugreek seeds and display their taste so that I can better understand the spice. Thanks in advance!
Fenugreek in modest quantities adds a richness and complexity to curries. Too much and it oozes from your pores...
Fenugreek is an essential "curry" spice to my palate, so I usually balance its bitterness and pungency by incorporating it into a spice blend. If you want to experience its flavor on its own, you can make hilbeh, a traditional Yemeni condiment made from soaked and whipped fenugreek seeds. The airy dip is much milder than you would expect if you bit into a fenugreek seed.
Generally speaking in Indian food, fenugreek seed is used to bestow a nutty, almost caramel-like fragrance to foods, typically by dry toasting or as by frying in oil. It's rarely the primary seasoning because a lit bit goes a long way. There's also a balancing act of releasing the rich flavors without emphasizing the bitterness that's also present.
Generally it's used with vegetables more than meats, and if you really want to profile the flavor, that's probably the route to go. It's a spice I personally associate with leafy greens (especially spinach) and potatoes. Something like sauteed greens...where the oil has first been seasoned with a spice mix include fenugreek (tumeric, mustard seed, asafoetida)...would be a good method. That could then be bulked out with chicken, or paneer, or tofu for that matter, or "creamed" with dairy or almond milk.
Actually...it also has some affinity for dairy. I've seen recipes for fenugreek cream as a pasta sauce, and for paneer made with milk seasoned with methi leaves.
It's also a legume, and sometimes in South India you'll encounter it eaten like a dal in rural areas...but I don't have any recipes for that, I just know of it.
Another option would be to see if you can sprout them (akin to bean or radish sprouts) and make something in the family of a cold salad.