Spices and Seasons – Fenugreek with Chef Navjot Arora


Greetings! Is it hot enough for you yet? Looks like we skipped real spring weather this year.

This week, I wanted to cover one of my favorite spices – fenugreek, but thought that I would take you to the wonderful Irvington kitchens of Chef Navjot Arora, to talk about his culinary style as well as fenugreek.  Navjot  Arora, Executive Chef andv co-owner of Chutney Masala Indian Bistro, grew up in Jalandhar Punjab, India, and graduated from one of the country’s most prestigious culinary schools, the Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi.

. In 2008, Navjot realized his dream of having his own restaurant when he opened Chutney Masala Indian Bistro to critical acclaim in Irvington, NY

I asked him some questions to help us understand his cooking style and how he uses and balances spices in his cooking.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your cooking style?

I have been a chef for over 20 years. I love to cook, eat and share good food with friends, having a restaurant lets me do all that. I take every opportunity to spread awareness about healthy Indian food, demystifying curry and breaking a lot of myths associated with Indian food.

My cooking style is all about keeping it simple and staying true to your roots.

How do you use spices in your cooking?

The use of spices is all about maintaining a balance and ensuring that spices do not overpower the main ingredients of a dish. That isv why when cooking vegetable dishes I do not use garam masala or any other heavy spice or spice blend, only light spices that just complement and enhance the flavors of the main ingredients.

 Do you have a favorite spice or spice blend?

I think Fenugreek is on top of my list.

Fenugreek has three culinary uses: as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), as a spice (seeds), and as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and micro greens).The distinctive cuboid-shaped, yellow-to-amber colored fenugreek seeds are frequently are used in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes, such as panch phoron and sambar powder. Fenugreek is also used as a vegetable. Fresh fenugreek leaves are an
ingredient in some Indian curries. The sprouted seeds and micro greens are used in salads and are an excellent way
for diabetic patients to keep their blood sugar level in control

What are some of your tips about working with spices?

Learning about the spices along with their properties can help achieve the perfect harmonious balance in any dish. Use restraint while using spices till you find the right balance. For example fenugreek seeds need to be tempered to bring out its flavor and remove the bitterness. If the right method is used a little bit can go a long way.

A wonderful recipe from Navjot’s kitchen showcasing the use of spices is Ambi Jheenga or  Indian Mango Shrimp.



2 pounds jumbo shrimp

Marinade for Shrimp

1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri Methi)

1  teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon garam masala

Juice of ½ lemon

Ingredients for the Sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon red chili powder

11/2 teaspoon coriander powder

¼ garam masala powder

½ teaspoon mango chutney paste

 Method of Preparation

1. Shell and devein shrimps, combine ingredients 11 to 15 apply to the shrimps and
refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. For the sauce saute the chopped onions, till they are translucent (about 5 minutes).

3. Add  ginger garlic paste and sauté for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes and the ingredients 5 to 10 continue to stir on medium heat till tomatoes become limp and the spices blend in.

5. Add the mango chutney paste, turn off the heat and keep this sauce aside(it should be almost like a chunky salsa in consistency)

6. Sauté the shrimps in a pre heated skillet till they change color, add the sauce and mix well while continuing to sauté on high heat for another minute.

7. Serve over rice

Rinku Bhattacharya, is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences, original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and has found her classes a great way to teach and learn.

Her cookbook the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, is scheduled to be published in November 2012. Rinku can be found on facebook, twitter and pinterest.




About Author

Rinku Bhattacharya, the Spices & Seasons blogger, loves meshing seasonal produce with fresh spices. Most of her recipes are inspired by her Indian heritage, and her cooking is practical, easy and well suited for a busy lifestyle on the go. As a mother with two young children, her recipes are also usually balanced and kid-friendly. Rinku is the author of the blog, Spice Chronicles (formerly,Cooking in Westchester), where she shares her life experiences and original recipes. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years. Rinku is the author of two cookbooks: The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles an award winning (Gourmand 2013) cookbook that highlights culture, memories and recipes from her childhood transformed where needed for her Lohud kitchen and Spices and Seasons that marries Indian flavors with local and seasonal produce. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and is also a contributor for Zester Daily.

1 Comment

  1. How interesting that chef doesn’t use garam masala or other spice blends, choosing instead to use only the spices that match the dish he’s cooking.

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