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Brown Basmati Rice & Lentil Pilau with Fenugreek

In my small town where I only find flat leaf parsley once a year, yes in my garden, you can imagine my disbelief. Fenugreek? I checked the label again and, yes it is fenugreek. Strangely I made a quinoa and lentil pilau, or pilaf as many say, only a few days ago that asked for a cup of chopped fenugreek. I simply omitted it. I have never tasted fresh fenugreek and to make a substitution was unnecessary. There was already lots of flavour.

This reminds me of when I found fresh Black Mission figs at the peak of ripeness. The bewildered produce manager had no idea how one would eat them. I bought a case. They were chopped and added to my farmers’ market loaves. I enjoyed them with a lovely chevre drizzled with local honey. I preserved jam and chutney. That was two years ago.

And then there was the time I found halloumi cheese. I had barely moved to town and was not familiar with anything let alone the standard fare at the grocery stores. I was suitably impressed but that was it. Once. Ditto with angostura bitters. That same Christmas there was an impressive display of angostura bitters. Wish I had bought a few bottles. I have not seen it since.

I looked again at my pilau recipe and it was indeed fenugreek that had been called for. Coincidentally I am making the pilau, this time with brown basmati rice, for a catering gig. Did I dare use the fenugreek? What would it taste like? 

How could I not buy it? I’m sure I’ll never see it again.

Brown Basmati Rice and Lentil Pilau

2 cups cooked brown basmati rice
1/2 cup cooked green lentils
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds
4 curry leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon raw cashews
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, to taste

Cook the rice and lentils separately. I cook both of them like I cook pasta, with lots of water. I drain them when they are cooked but still firm and lay a clean tea towel over them to steam for a few minutes.

Heat oil in a wide saute pan on medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds. When they begin to pop add the cashews and toast. Add turmeric, curry leaves, coriander and saute for a minute or two. Add shallots and carrots. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and lentils. Mix thoroughly. Cover and heat on lowest setting for 8 - 10 minutes or they can be placed in a 325F oven in a covered pot for about 20 minutes.

Fenugreek (/ˈfɛnjʉɡriːk/; Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae with leaves consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets. It is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop, and its seeds are a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian Subcontinent. (Wikipedia)

It has a green herbaceous flavour with a slight bitterness. It is very mild in this dish. 


  1. I have never come across fresh fenugreek in my neck o the woods but Choices would be the place to have it randomly, I do have the powdered spice sent to me by an Ontario blogger.

    1. Well, I'm not sure if I ever found it in Calgary either. Or I didn't know what to do with it. We get the strangest things. Another one is really nice plantain. I have found plantain a lot but they don't ripen properly and stay hard. Ours are quite nice.

  2. What interesting ingredients you find where you least expect them! This pilaf looks good.

    1. I am beginning to learn just to buy them and I'll find a way to use them. I really should. We don't always find such exotics. Brightens my day.


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