In this post, you are going to discover the most powerful fenugreek leaves substitutes you can use in your cooking which have nearly the same aromatic profile.
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What Can You Use Instead Of Fenugreek Leaves
Before I started growing my own fenugreek, I was really confused and frustrated that nearly all the shops in my city didn’t sell fresh fenugreek leaves, let alone dried ones!
I’ve spent many hours looking for them, and besides buying them from the internet, there aren’t many shops that will provide you with fenugreek leaves, quality ones.
That’s why I would like to show you in this post the best substitutes to use instead of fenugreek leaves, most of these are available in nearby health food shops or supermarkets and are very inexpensive.
The first thing you must understand about fenugreek leaves is that they are available everywhere!
I know that I’m confusing you right now, please, bear with me!
Where to Buy Fenugreek Leaves
The best place to buy fresh fenugreek leaves is at the farmers’ market; you can also try your local organic food store, at least that’s where I buy them, however, because they are not in great demand, even if you find them, they’re certainly going to be some few days old, which is sad because fresh fenugreek leaves lose their flavor so fast if they’re not preserved properly.
This brings me to my first alternative:
Dried Fenugreek Leaves
If you have dried fenugreek leaves available, try to use the following ratio: 1:2.
Meaning that one teaspoon, for example, of fresh fenugreek leaves, is going to equal two teaspoons of dried fenugreek leaves.
Where to Buy Dried Fenugreek Leaves
I buy mine from the internet, they are not expensive, and they are also available all year long, and because they are dry, their flavor profile is stable. However, I highly recommend that you buy your dried fenugreek leaves from highly reviewed brands to get the best quality.
One more thing, most cities have Asian markets, at least in North America, if you go to one and ask about dried fenugreek leaves, people there are going to look weirdly at you!
The proper name of dried fenugreek leaves in these shops is “kasuri methi “.
Also pronounced “kasoori methi,” when you go there and ask the clerk for Kasuri methi leaves.
He’s going to sell you very inexpensive and flavorful quality leaves.
Fenugreek Leaves vs. Curry Leaves
Curry leaves come from the curry tree, Murraya koenigii, native to southern Asia, and used a lot in East Indian food, they are not the same as fenugreek leaves.
Suffice to say that fenugreek leaves have a slightly sweet and nutty aroma; however, fresh curry leaves smell pungently of curry, but the dried ones have far less aroma and flavor.
Now, the second thing you need to understand about substituting fenugreek leaves is that:
They Are Not Very Important When It Comes To Cooking!
I say this because sometimes you may not be able to find them, and you may think that your Indian dishes are going to tastes awful!
It’s not true, I’ve had and prepared many delicious Indian dishes where it was mentioned to use fenugreek leaves, yet I didn’t, and they tasted just fine.
Of course, in this article, I’m going to share with you some of the best alternatives you can use if you don’t have fenugreek leaves.
However, some people think that fenugreek leaves, methi leaves, have a unique flavor to them that no other herbs can replace; this is true.
However, if you cannot find them, no need to obsess about getting them since there are so many viable replacements that do taste very close to fenugreek leaves.
So, don’t worry about using them, but if you are obsessed with finding amazingly healthy and flavorful alternatives, then let me give you this proven selection of herbs:
Fenugreek Leaves Substitutes
Now, the first substitute to fenugreek leaves is:
Maple syrup is probably the best alternative you can use if you don’t have fenugreek leaves nearby, it’s also a great substitute for fenugreek leaves in curry; maple syrup can also be used successfully as a fenugreek substitute in butter chicken.
What I love about this inexpensive product is that it’s available all year long, it’s very cheap, and most importantly, you do not care about using the real thing or not!
Let me explain:
The reason why maple syrup is so amazing at replacing fenugreek leaves is because it contains a powerful component, an organic compound, called stolon.
Yes, it’s the same compound responsible for giving fenugreek leaves their “smelly” taste and aroma.
Well, this organic component is also the one responsible for giving maple syrup its distinctive smell and taste.
Stolon is an important compound when making artificial and inexpensive maple syrup as it’s also present in genuine maple syrup, you can read the following research paper in French to learn more: http://gestion.centreacer.qc.ca/fr/UserFiles/Publications/39_Fr.pdf
How Much Maple Syrup to Replace Fenugreek Leaves
To use maple syrup as a replacement for fenugreek leaves, you need to understand this very important thing: fenugreek leaves are more flavorful than fenugreek seeds!
This means that you are required to use a lot of maple syrup compared to substituting fenugreek seeds.
This is somehow problematic as maple syrup, as you may know, tastes sweets and can alter the flavor profile of your dishes.
Nevertheless, using one teaspoon of maple syrup can give a similar taste experience to that of fenugreek leaves without altering a lot the flavor profile of your dishes.
I think that using more than one teaspoon is going to cause you a lot of headaches since your dishes will tend to tastes sweeter.
Although celery leaves are not one hundred percent identical to the flavor profile of fenugreek leaves, they are a good alternative. They are going to help you get a unique taste that’s not 100% resembling fenugreek leaves, but it’s going to add richness and flavor to your dishes.
When I started using fenugreek leaves in my dishes, a lot of people started commenting that they taste like celery.
So, it may be a great idea to combine both maple syrup and celery leaves when preparing your dishes instead of using fenugreek leaves.
This is in fact what I use at home, I take one teaspoon of maple syrup and about one teaspoon of celery leaves, I chop them very finely, and I add them just minutes before serving my dishes.
Yes, this will keep the true flavor of your dish intact while also adding rich fenugreek leaves aroma and taste.
Watercress is also used and highly praised as good fenugreek leaves substitutes.
However, in my opinion, they do not do this job very well!
I tend to find their taste to be a bit greenish and earthy, but I guess that if you can use a small amount, they are going to substitutes fenugreek leaves wonderfully.
I have tried to use them on many occasions instead of fenugreek leaves, especially dried ones, and they tasted fine, in my opinion.
However, not a true replacement to fenugreek leaves, although a lot of people are going to disagree with me.
Spinach has quite a distinctive taste to it, but in your dishes, you should use as little as possible because the taste can be overwhelming, and you may even find the color to be a little too invasive!
In reality, it’s very difficult to replace fenugreek leaves, however, the secret here is to use maple syrup, as late in your cooking as possible to keep its distinctive flavor intact; however, we have a problem, since maple syrup taste sweet, it can alter the flavor of your dishes.
To remedy this, I highly recommend that you always combine the herbs I have just mentioned, spinach, watercress, and celery leaves, with one teaspoon of maple syrup and add them near the end of cooking time, five minutes before serving for example.
Now, let me tell you about my most favorite fenugreek leaves substitute:
Can you use fenugreek seeds instead of leaves?
Yes, fenugreek powder is available in most shops and especially the internet, you can buy it very cheaply, and it’s going to last you for months!
Here is what I usually do as an alternative to fenugreek leaves:
I boil some spinach, and then I take it out, then I sprinkle fenugreek powder all over it, and I mix everything.
Trust me, this is one of the best substitutes for fenugreek leaves you can try, and it’s also very cheap, you are going to get nearly the exact taste.
And you’ll be able to fool people so easily as they’ll see greens everywhere with a powerful fenugreek taste, which will give them the idea that you are using fenugreek leaves.
Growing Your Own Fenugreek
Indeed, growing fenugreek is not very difficult; it’s extremely easy; here is what I do:
Since you will be growing fenugreek inside your kitchen, preferably, there is no harm in starting whenever you want.
As long as you provide good soil and, most importantly, during the first weeks of germination, you need to not expose your young fenugreek plants to lots of sunlight, only a few hours during the day.
Which is ideal because my kitchen is not directly exposed to the sun.
So, take a small pot to which you are going to add good quality compost, mix it with a little soil from your garden, for example, and add to them one teaspoon of dried fenugreek seeds, avoid using roasted ones since they are not going to germinate.
Water them every three days, because from experience, fenugreek plants, especially when they are young, don’t like a lot of water, and you should be fine.
And this is how I have fenugreek leaves throughout the year, which is very cheap and also extremely comforting since I do not use pesticides or dangerous chemicals on my plants.
If you know about other fenugreek leaves substitutes, please share them in a comment.