Seeds, it is the seeds we use for curry etc. From the mortar or industrially ground. Fresh leaves taste nothing like the seeds and are supposed to be used instead of parsley. I don’t want to know about that. Yet.
To tell you the truth, I hate fennel, just like everything else that tastes like anise. I did try several times to include fresh fennel bulbs into some of the more daring vegetable dishes I tend to make on sunny days and I gave it up quite soon. This sweetness that doesn’t want to be really sweet but wants to be several other things at the same time, a medicine, and something bitter, and toothpaste-like – nothing for me.
As it goes, I still appreciate fennel seeds as a part of the so-called Indian dishes we prepare at home (“so-called” because I don’t even want to imagine what real Indians would say about our … culinary escapades). And when I am coughing I will swallow tons of fennel honey and feel good. Go figure. Or, erm, don’t.
I have no idea why we have fenugreek at home, but I do like it and use it a lot. Could be that we bought it for dal or we wanted to mix our own curry at some point, don’t know. Recently, I’ve been using it as a substitute for devil’s dung, aka asafoetida, which we don’t have at home though it is an integral part of our beloved palak paneer – it seems we may have forgotten to search for it or maybe we did but we didn’t like the smell…
OK, OK, the nutshell: I don’t remember when or why anyone here decided to buy fenugreek and to use it instead of asafoetida and I have no idea why we don’t have any asafoetida at home. So what: fenugreek does the job, too.