A popular seed in Indian cookery, in which it's termed methi, this small, hard, mustard yellow seed has a tangy, bitter, burnt-sugar flavour.
The herb of the same name (see fenugreek herb) is grown from it and is also used in Middle Eastern cooking.
All year round.
Choose the best
Like all seeds, fenugreek seeds are best bought little and often - that way, instead of having them languish in your store cupboard for a long time, you can buy more, fresher seeds as and when you need them. The best place to buy them is Indian speciality stores.
You'll get more flavour out of fenugreek seeds by grinding or dry frying them. To dry fry, heat up a pan, tip in the seeds and, over a medium heat, brown for a couple of minutes, tossing them around the pan frequently. As the seed's so hard, they're difficult to grind by hand so, for recipes that call for ground, rather than whole, buy ready-ground, unless you have a small coffee grinder.
Kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, fennel seeds will last for up to one year.
In curries, pickles and sauces.