Showing posts with label fenugreek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fenugreek. Show all posts

Apr 19, 2017

Panch Phoron (Bengali Five Spice)

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

Panch Phoron is a fragrant blend of five spices and a signature flavor of traditional Bengali cuisine. Panch means five and phoron means spices or flavors. What makes this spice mix unusual is that it's typically used in its whole form rather than ground or powdered. Panch phoron can be used with any vegetable or lentil dish and is particularly good with seafood.

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

The five spices that traditionally comprise panch phoron are: fenugreek seed, nigella seed,  radhuni seed, fennel seed, and cumin seed. All the spices have their own unique notes: the pungent maple-like flavor of fenugreek seed, the celery-like greeness of radhuni seed, the slightly bitter oregano-like nigella seed, the anisic punch of fennel seed, and the peppery warmth of cumin seed. So simple yet such depth of flavor!
Ajwain or Carom seeds
Radhuni or wild celery seeds
Some variations may substitute anise for the fennel, ajwain for the radhuni, and black cumin for nigella. Generally the ingredients are added in equal proportions, though this can vary according to taste. To make panch phoron you simply mix equal amounts of all the spices together and store it in an airtight container.

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

In the tradition of Bengali cuisine, one usually fries the panch phoron first in cooking oil or ghee. This causes the whole spices to start popping and become wonderfully fragrant. This technique is called baghaar or bagar in Bengali, and chaunk in Hindi. After this tempering, other ingredients are added to the fried spices to be coated or infused with the mixture. Dry roasted panch phoron is sometimes ground to make a powder that is sprinkled on chutneys. Although panch phoran is utilized in other parts of northern and eastern India, it's almost impossible to imagine Bengali food without it!

panch phoron, panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran,  panch pora, fennel, fenugreek, cumin, radhuni, ajmod, mustard, nigella, kalonji, bengal, bengali, indian, five spice, bengali five spice,

Panch phoron is available commercially under several brand names. You may also see this blend called panch puran, panch phutana,  panch phoran or panch pora. If you'd like to make it yourself here's the recipe:

1 TBS nigella/kalonji seeds
1 TBS cumin/jeera seeds
1 TBS mustard seeds (or radhuni/wild celery seeds)*
1 TBS fennel/saunf seeds
1 TBS fenugreek/methi seeds

Here's what to do:
1) Combine all the ingredients in an airtight light-proof container.

2) Shake well to mix ingredients. Store sealed away from heat or direct light.

Helpful Hints:
I'm using mustard seeds in place of the traditional radhuni/wild celery seeds. You could also use ajwain for the Nepali version of panch phoron or just the plain celery seeds you can find in western markets.

Jan 9, 2017

Malai Methi Murgh

malai methi murgh recipe chicken curry indian fenugreek cream creamy easy

Malai means cream, methi means fenugreek, and murgh means chicken. In this dish chicken is simmered until meltingly tender in a rich, creamy gravy fragrant with fenugreek and traditional aromatic spices. A true North Indian delicacy that's mild in heat yet boldly spiced and flavorsome. A perfect recipe for a cozy and comforting Fall or Winter supper when paired with rice or rotis!

malai methi murgh recipe chicken curry indian fenugreek cream creamy easy

Fenugreek and I have not always been such good friends. It's not a familiar flavor to the Western palate and can easily overpower a dish if not used properly and judiciously. This dish uses the dried leaves of fenugreek which are usually available at any Indian grocers' by the name kasoori methi.

Kasoori Methi or dried fenugreek leaves usually come sealed in foil in a small box of a few ounces.

Dried fenugreek leaves or kasoori methi require a little special treatment to get them to release their rich and complex flavor without becoming bitter or overwhelming. As with herbs in general, fenugreek's flavor is much more concentrated in the dried form while the fresh leaves are much milder. A few pinches of the dried herb is all that's necessary to imbibe it's earthy flavor often said to be a bittersweet blend of celery, fennel, and maple.
The herb kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves.
Cream is the perfect agent to mellow the sharpness of kasoori methi and best bring out the rich, complex flavor. Never fry kasoori methi as it may scorch and turn unpalatably bitter. (One of my first unfriendly encounters with kasoori methi was the result of just such a scorching.) Only add the kasoori methi towards the end of the dish after the cream or other liquid has been added. Be sure to crush the kasoori methi between your fingers when adding it to a dish to help release it's flavor. Not more than a tablespoonful is usually all that's necessary, anymore than that in a recipe is cause for grave suspicion! If you follow all these suggestions you'll be rewarded with a gravy whose velvety texture is enhanced and warmly accented with kasoori methi's unique and robust flavor. If you wish to learn more about fenugreek when used as a spice, fresh herb, or dried herb you may do so on a post I did here. Despite any previous mishaps, I think you'll find when fenugreek is used gently and judiciously it's quite the taste sensation!

1 kg/2lbs chicken pieces, skinless and bone in
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
2 TBS ginger/adrak paste
2-3 green chilis/hari mirch, finely chopped (omit for less heat)
1 TBS ground coriander/dhania seeds

1 tsp turmeric/haldi
2 tsp garam masala
5 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
3 black cardamoms/badi elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 cloves/laung
1 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
10 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
1 C milk mixed with 1/4 C cream
1 C water or stock/shorba
1 to 2 TBS dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi

Here's what to do:
1) Heat oil or ghee with 1 teaspoon salt over medium high heat in a deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 4-5 minutes. Add thinly sliced onions and fry for 8-10 minutes until medium brown. Add green chilis, garlic, and ginger paste and fry for 2 minutes stirring well. Add coriander, turmeric, garam masala, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia bark, black peppercorns, and cassia leaves. Stir well and cook mixture for at least 2 minutes or until raw smell leaves spices.

2) Add chicken pieces to the pan. Allow chicken pieces to cook for about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in milk mixed with cream. Return pan to heat and bring to simmer over medium heat.

3) Add 1 to 2 cups water or stock (or enough to cover chicken by at least a half an inch of liquid)  to chicken mixture in pan. Crumble dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi over chicken mixture and stir in well.

4) Allow to simmer over medium covered for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and oil separates from the gravy. Salt to taste and serve with rice and/or rotis.

Feb 1, 2016

Ingredients: Let's All Reek With Fenugreek!

Fenugreek, methi or, samudra methi is an annual herb which is commonly featured in dishes of the Indian Subcontinent.  It is a member of the plant family Fabaceae, and of the genus and species Trigonella foenum-graecum. It's seeds are used as a spice while the plant is used in fresh and dried form as an herb.

Fenugreek or methi seeds
Fenugreek/methi can be used as a spice in the form of it's seeds. The square shaped yellow seeds can be utilized whole or powdered in pickles/achaari, dals, sambar, vegetable dishes, curries, and the traditional spice mixes of the various cuisines of South Asia. Dry roasting or fryingthe seeds mellows their pungent flavor a bit, but scorching them results in a strong, bitter flavor. Use them sparingly, for they are quite powerful in flavor.

The leaves of fenugreek look a bit like pea or vetch leaves.
Understandable, as fenugreek is also in the Fabaceae family.
Fenugreek/methi can be used in fresh or dried form as an herb. Fresh fenugreek/methi leaves are commonly sold at markets across the Subcontinent in bundles with the roots still attached. They feature in many curries and flatbreads also. The fresh leaves are much milder in flavor than the seeds. You'll often see fenugreek/methi growing wild in clumps near water where the soil is sandy across South Asia. The leaves are very rich in calcium and also make excellent cattle fodder. The sprouted seeds of fenugreek/methi can also be used in salads.
Dried fenugreek leaves are called kasoori methi.
The dried leaves of fenugreek are called kasoori methi in Hindi and are used in curries also. The dried leaves much stronger and pungent in flavor than the fresh leaves and can quickly overpower a dish if not used judiciously.

One of the many brands of dried fenugreek leaves available in India.

The flavor and scent of fenugreek/methi in all it's forms is very unique and unusual.
 It's flavor has been described as being a combination of celery, fennel, and maple syrup. It also has a very earthy and rather rank musty, fusty note.
Sotolon, 3-Hydroxy-4,5-dimethylfuran-2(5H)-one
(Also called caramel furanone, sugar lactone, fenugreek lactone)

Sotolon is the powerful aroma compound responsible for fenugreek/methi's distinctive fragrance and flavor. Sotolon is also the major aroma and flavor component of artificial maple syrup, the herb lovage, molasses, aged rum, aged sake, white wine, flor sherry, and toasted tobacco. High concentrations of sotolon result in the musty taste present in curries and pickles/achaari. At lower concentrations the flavor and scent of fenugreek/methi presents as a pleasant caramel or maple syrup note. Sotolon passes through the human body unchanged and is excreted in sweat and urine. Anyone consuming quite a bit of fenugreek/methi will thus reek of sotolon. I've often wondered if sotolon is the "curry smell" that many non Desi persons find objectionable. I've also wondered if sotolon is the "mysterious" note of "honey and decay" in Guerlain's famed perfume Djedi.  It would certainly be mysterious and unfamiliar to most Western palates. At any rate, go easy on the fenugreek/methi in all it's forms when cooking for Westerners whom are new to Desi cuisines.

Guerlain's Djedi

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