When reader, Bob, asked for a recipe for chamanichur, it turned out what he really wanted was a sauce recipe containing chaman (chaiman, chemen). His grandmother used to make it and serve it with liver. You might best-know this recipe as the pasty coating that covers basterma, however, chamanichur is thinned out. When I sent Bob a recipe I found in one of my Armenian Church cookbooks, he was overjoyed and anxious to make it. One BIG catch: he lives in Spain, and finding fenugreek became a monumental challenge. Fortunately, Bob was able to find a source on the internet, and promptly placed an order for ground fenugreek seeds. Bob promises to send a photo of his finished product once he has all of the necessary ingredients.
So, what is fenugreek, you ask? Fenugreek is an aromatic plant with pleasingly bitter, slightly sweet seeds, used as a spice. The leaves, which aren’t readily available in the United States, can be used as an herb in salads. The leaves and sprouts of the plant can also be eaten as vegetables.
Fenugreek seeds can be purchased whole or ground, and generally are used in curry powders, spice blends and teas.
Wikipedia notes the following:
1. For arthritis sufferers: It is believed that drinking 1 cup of fenugreek tea per day, made from the leaves, can help relieve the discomfort of arthritis pain. (Too bad the leaves are hard to find in the US; I might have to check into this, but wonder if there would be any side effects, hmmmm.)
2. Fenugreek is a good source of high dietary fiber. Taking a few seeds with warm water before going to sleep helps avoid constipation.
And now for the recipe…
- ½ cup ground fenugreek seeds (chemen)
- ½ cup paprika
- 4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, large (crushed)
- 1 cup water
- Using amount desired, combine in a large bowl, all ingredients except the garlic and water.
- Add the crushed garlic according to your taste. Begin adding water, a little at a time, so that the mixture has the consistency of cake batter.
- This mixture can be used in various geragoors with spinach, lamb, etc., or in Armenian hamburgers, or even in pastry dough for mezza. It can be kept in a plastic bag or bottle in the freezer, to be used as needed. The recipe may be doubled or tripled.