These are both used in Indian cooking a lot and can be easily left out from
Asafoetida is usually never used with onions and garlic, as they all tend to
be sulfurous and make the dish overly flavored. In fact, asafoetida is used
as a onion/garlic substitute by communities in India that shun the use of
onion and garlic (for whatever reasons!!). Asafoetida is also supposed to
make lentil/bean and other heavy dishes digestible.
Fenugreek, used in the seed form, is used as a spice. It is one of the
ingredients in Madras curry powders. The taste is pleasantly bitter in small
quanities, especially if it is first sauteed in a bit of oil before adding
to a dish. The fenugreek greens, on the other hand, can be cooked like
spinach. In fact, it can be cooked with any other green like spinach, kale
or mustard. Fenugreek is supposed to have a whole lot of medicinal
properties - when we were kids, my mother made us swallow a tsp of whole
seeds with diluted yogurt/buttermilk to stop diarrhea. My dad has had the
powdered seeds with yogurt and salt with his breakfast to control diabetes.
And yes, it is said that nursing mothers can increase lactation by eating a
handful of fenugreek greens everyday.
I shall try to post a couple of recipes using fenugreek greens if anyone has
access to them or is just plain interested. By the way, if a recipe calls
for fenugreek greens, you can substitute spinach with a bit of powdered