Fenugreek - The Ancient Spice of Mummification
Recently, I spent a fair bit of time learning about Indian culture, researching recipes and experimenting with spices. I have to say that I learned a great deal of information. Spice, fruits, herbs, cooking techniques but mostly the diversity of Indian subcontinent. It is amazing!
Fenugreek belongs to the pea family and its aromatic seeds, whole or ground into a powder that adds flavour across South and West Asia, the Mediterranean, Central Europe and North Africa. Its sprouts and seeds are edible as well. Although this seasonal crop is grown all around the world, its uses and public awareness vary considerably. In India, fenugreek is called “methi” and its fresh stems and leaves are commonly cooked as a winter vegetable, while the fenugreek seeds are used all year long as a flavouring agent for various dishes. In Ethiopia and Egypt “abesh” is used to bake bread while in Switzerland fenugreek is used to flavour cheese.
Apart from culinary use, fenugreek has also been used in the beauty and medicinal industry for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, fenugreek was used in the mummification process. What I found fascinating is that during the first Jewish-Roman war, it was said fenugreek was mixed with boiling oil which was used to keep invaders from entering the city.
The diverse use of fenugreek seeds and leaves, either fresh or dried, got me interested in the flavour profiles and how I can use it in cocktails. Fenugreek seeds are often toasted before used in cooking or powdered and used as a part of spice blends, that are used as a seasoning, while the fresh fenugreek stems and leaves are used as a vegetable. I like it for its earthy, musty flavour with an exceptional perfume aroma. When selecting fresh fenugreek leaves make sure they are bright green and perky, the ones that are fading off will have a light yellow colour.
So when it comes to a flavour, fenugreek seed is a fascinating ingredient to work with, but you have to be careful. Fresh seed is hard and bitter, for that reason, you will have to toast it and grind it freshly before using it. You can extract amazing flavour profiles of vanilla, butterscotch as well as reminiscent notes of rum and or maple. I can imagine the diverse use across pastry as well as in cocktails.
Planas Fashion Choices
50 ml Spanish White Rum (Diplomatico Planas, Havana Club 3 Years Old) 5 ml Planas Nectar* 5 ml Fresh Lemon Juice 4 - 5 pcs of Fresh Coriander leaves 2.5 ml Jack Daniels No.7
Smash and bruise the coriander leaves and put them in the cup.
Pour remaining spirits over, add crushed ice gently stir 10 times.
Top up with crushed ice and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf and pomegranate seeds.
30 gm Fenugreek seeds 18 gm Coriander seeds 300 gm Palm sugar (light colour) 200 ml Still water
Lightly toast fenugreek seeds on the saucepan, once you smell the delicate aroma, add coriander seeds and palm sugar. Let it caramelise for 30 seconds and slowly pour water into the saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves.
Once sugar is dissolved, bring to a low heat temperature and cook for another 15 min and occasionally stir. Once cooked, strain the spices, take the syrup off the heat and leave to cool down in room temperature in a pot with a cover.
Once cool, bottle and keep refrigerated. Suggested use is within the next 4 weeks.