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Ground Fenugreek Seeds
Fenugreek seeds are triangular in shape, caramel colored and they’re rock hard. In order to release their flavor they must first be ground. Home cooks often dry roast the seeds before grinding them as lightly roasting them tends to mellow their flavor a bit while also removing some of their inherent bitterness. They may also be soaked for several hours and then ground (if you prefer to use them as a paste). We grind our Ground Fenugreek weekly in small batches.
Unlike many spices that have a high volatile oil content (i.e. cumin, allspice, cardamom and peppercorns), Fenugreek seeds contain only minute quantities of essential oils. This allows for storing ground fenugreek (also sometimes called fenugreek powder) for a longer period without the flavor dissipating quickly.
Once ground, the aroma is almost intoxicating and you’ll notice a pungent, spiciness with undertones of butterscotch and sweet nuts. This is a spice where the flavor does not come close to matching the aroma. The taste is nutty and bittersweet. It has been described as similar to celery seed or lovage. Fenugreek seeds are rich in protein and have a hint of heat to them coming in at a 1-2 on the heat scale.
The culinary use of bitter flavors is a common theme found in cuisines all over the globe and the wide spread popularity of this bitter spice tends to surprise many Western cooks. Fenugreek is especially popular in Armenian, Egyptian, Indian, Iranian, Saudi Arabian and Turkish cuisines.