What it is: Fenugreek is a plant widely cultivated in Asia (predominantly in India) and Europe. Both its leaves and seeds are used in cooking, commonly in curries.
How I discovered it: My first encounter with fenugreek was years ago when I dined at Vij’s back in my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. To this day, Vij’s remains a very popular nouveau Indian restaurant, and the signature dish on the menu is the famous lamb “popsicles” with fenugreek cream curry.
The lamb chops I ate that night were incredibly tender and served in an aromatic sauce that tasted of turmeric and paprika. A bright note of fresh lemon juice cut through the rich cream sauce, which we spooned over our naan and basmati rice.
How to use it in the kitchen: Fenugreek leaves can be used as an herb, while its seeds are used to spice curries and to flavor pickles. The use of fenugreek also is widespread in holistic medicine; some believe that fenugreek tea relieves arthritis pain.
Where to find it: Whole fenugreek seeds (called methi) can be found at Market Spice (Pike Place Market, 85 Pike St., #A; 206.622.6340; marketspice.com) for $10.95/pound, and the leaves (called kasuri methi) can be found at many Indian stores, such as Mayuri Grocery (Redmond, 2560 152nd Ave. NE, Suite A; 425.881.6284; mayurifamily.com).
Lorna's Recipe for Fenugreek:
Lamb Chops with Fenugreek Cream Curry
This recipe is a lighter version of Vij’s incredibly decadent lamb “popsicles” dish.
For the lamb:
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grainy mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 racks of lamb chops, separated into individual chops
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon fenugreek leaves
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
Kosher salt to taste
Whisk together the wine, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss the lamb chops in the marinade, coating each one evenly and thoroughly. Cover the bowl and allow the lamb to marinade in the fridge for 2 hours minimum and as long as overnight. Remove the lamb chops from the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream, yogurt, lemon juice, paprika, turmeric, cayenne and fenugreek.
In a saucepan over medium high heat, sauté the garlic in the vegetable oil until golden, about 2–3 minutes. Add the cream mixture to the saucepan, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 7–10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Keep the sauce warm on low heat while you cook the lamb.)
Meanwhile, in a grill pan or cast-iron pan, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Sear the chops in the pan until cooked to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Serve the lamb chops with the cream sauce spooned over the top.