Is there an alternative to dried Fenugreek in curry? Is it required?
Fenugreek is one of those flavours that you can't really substitute. However, I've been cooking Indian for a couple of years now, and I get by fine without it.
There are lots of different curries. Many use fenugreek, and many don't. My favourite one uses garam masala, cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Fenugreek seeds have a bitter taste, with the same flavor compounds as maple syrup. Once cooked, the flavor mellows out. Best fenugreek substitutes are yellow mustard seeds, masala curry powder, maple syrup or burnt brown sugar.
I've never done much with fenugreek/curry cooking-wise, but when I make certain pickles I typically use fennel to replace fenugreek. I can't speak much to the flavor, but I know that fennel has a mapley smell like fenugreek seeds.