Fenugreek is a plant that has multiple uses, including cooking. Unfortunately, it is not something that is found readily everywhere. Hence, you need substitutes. In this article, we have listed a few substitutes for Fenugreek leaves in cooking.
You can substitute the fenugreek leaves by the seeds but the flavor will change. While using the seeds, do not overheat it or it will get very bitter. You can also roast the seeds before using so that the flavor is enhanced and the bitterness is reduced.
Fenugreek is a plant that belongs to Fabaceae family, is also called methi in India. It is cultivated and used all around the world, but mainly in India. It is not only used in cooking, but also used for medicinal purposes. Fenugreek can be used as a vegetable, as seeds, or as dried herbs. A chemical named ‘sotolon’ gives it the sweet smell but it’s bitter in taste. It is used extensively in Indian recipes to give that authentic taste. The leaves are directly cooked as vegetables and the dried leaves or seeds (powdered or as it is) are used in recipes like butter chicken, dhansak, and daals. It is also used in Turkish, Egyptian, Eritrean, and Ethiopian cuisines for different reasons.
Several recipes call for fenugreek leaves. But, you don’t have to worry if you don’t get it. Use these substitutes according to what the recipe demands. It’s difficult to get the exact taste but you are almost there.
Substitutes for Fenugreek leaves
Fenugreek seeds can be used as told above. But, you can also search for Kasoori methi which is a dried form of the leaves. It is used in many recipes to give the flavor but the taste can vary slightly. The dried leaves are in the crumbled form and have a very strong taste and smell. Hence, use it in less proportion. If the recipe calls for leaves to be stewed, do not use the dried form. Use the dried leaves if it has to be sprinkled in a sauce or something. You can also search for fenugreek seed powder.
Proportion: 1 tablespoon fresh leaves = 1 teaspoon kasoori methi.
Maple syrup and fenugreek share the same chemical compound named ‘sotolone’, which is responsible for the peculiar smell. Also, fenugreek is sometimes added to maple syrup to enhance the aroma. Hence you can use it as a substitute. There is no exact proportion but you can just add a small amount to the dish.
Tip: The aroma of maple syrup can fade very soon so add it at the end.
Use other Greens
▶ Celery Leaves: Celery leaves can give a new twist to your dish as well as you won’t miss the Fenugreek leaves. Celery leaves have the same bitter taste, so just chop the leaves and use it.
▶ Alfalfa/Watercress: You can also use these leafy vegetables if they are available in your neighborhood. They have a taste that’s similar to celery.
▶ Spinach or Kale: These will slightly change the flavor but can make as a good substitute for the fenugreek leaves. Other than these, you can also try collard greens. Spinach is a better option because it can resemble the texture and aroma.
Tip: Grind some fenugreek seeds and then mix it with spinach leaves while cooking. It will give it the fenugreek taste.
Proportion: Use 1 tbsp. fresh leaves for 1 tbsp. fenugreek leaves.
Curry powder consists of powdered fenugreek seeds as one of the many ingredients. Hence, using it will give it a fenugreek flavor and make it more tasty. If possible, get some freshly made curry powder.
Tip: Cook the curry powder first with oil so that the other overpowering aromas are reduced.
This can be the last option for the leaves as it may resemble the fenugreek seeds taste. You can use yellow mustard seeds or fennel seeds. If you’re using mustard seeds, try this – crush it and heat, this will reduce the mustard smell and will taste like fenugreek. Using only fennel seeds can make the recipe sweet so you can combine it with mustard seeds and then use it in the recipe.
Proportion: Use half a teaspoon of these seeds for 1 tablespoon of fenugreek leaves.
Now, you’re all ready for the kitchen emergencies. Just be wise and know which substitute you should use for which recipe. Keep cooking and winning your family’s hearts!