Thursday, June 24, 2010


This week saw my first experience with fenugreek.  This pungent little seed looks like Nerds candy and smells exactly like a Traditional Medicinals tea I used to drink.  It's an ingredient that up until now, I've always just skipped over--it usually appears in recipes that call for ten spices or more.  But earlier this week, I went out for Ethiopian food--which was delicious, as usual--and resolved to figure out what gives Ethiopian vegetarian dishes their distinctive flavor.  Internet searching led me to Berbere, a spice blend that resembles many Indian curry powders but contains allspice and fenugreek, among other things.  Luckily for me, I easily found a lifetime supply of fenugreek (labeled "funigreek") for $1.99 (I think you know where).  So, if anyone has suggestions for ways to use fenugreek or favorite recipes that call for berbere, I'd love them.

Berbere is complicated.  I looked at different recipes online before settling on this one from RecipeZaar.  Look at all the ingredients!

Anyway, you measure a lot, then you roast some stuff, then you grind some stuff.  How does it taste in lentils and other recipes?  I'll have to get back to you on that one.  Right now, all I can tell you is that it makes a lot (you might want to halve the recipe) and that it's really, really spicy...

Ingredients for Berbere
(adapted from RecipeZaar)

2 tsp cumin seeds
4 whole cloves
3/4 tsp cardamom seed
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seed
4 TB dried red chili flakes
1 tsp dried gingerroot
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 TB sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves

In a toaster oven or cast-iron skillet, toast the whole spices (everything up through coriander) for 2 minutes on low heat.  Allow to cool.  Then, grind toasted spices with everything else and transfer to an airtight container.
Makes about 1/4 c.


Two quick side notes:

I love this squash, sold at Jon's as "Mexican Squash."  Use it anywhere you'd use zucchini, like in the Red Lentil Coconut Curry I posted awhile back.

 Sarah and I were walking by a garage sale and I got sucked into making this hilarious $1 impulse buy.  I mean, one dollar.  I can't wait to put it in the grad student fridge this fall.  Edit 7/11: It's a lunch box.  Apparently this was not clear; I apologize for any confusion...

1 comment:

happy*chickens said...

hello Julia!
just stumbled across your blog and I'm so grateful!
this post is 8 years old already but had to share my fenugreek love <3
you can add it to any veggie soup or bean soup, just toss a few seeds when you add the spices (beginning of cooking) and it'll get this Wonderfull deep taste:)
it's also very tasty when sprouted! sprouts fast and goes well eating raw or slightly stir fried.
(I also discovered that fenugreek is used for natural breast enlargement so be careful with the dosage lol)

thank you for sharing your kitchen