Other Names: Foenugreek, Goat’s Horn, Bird’s Foot
The distinctive cuboid-shaped, yellow-to-amber colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. The seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes, such as panch phoron and sambar powder. Fenugreek seeds are used both whole and in powdered form and are often roasted to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavor.
Fenugreek is also used as a vegetable. Fresh fenugreek leaves are an ingredient in some Indian curries. The sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads. When harvested as microgreens, fenugreek is known as Samudra Methi in Maharashtra, especially in and around Mumbai, where it is often grown near the sea in the sandy tracts, hence the name (Samudra, which means “ocean” in Sanskrit). Samudra Methi is also grown in dry river beds in the Gangetic plains. When sold as a vegetable in India, the young plants are harvested with their roots still attached. Any remaining soil is washed off and they are then sold in small bundles in the markets and bazaars to extend their shelf life.
In Persian cuisine, fenugreek leaves are used and called (shanbalile). It is the key ingredient and one of several greens incorporated into ghormeh sabzi and Eshkeneh, often said to be the Iranian national dishes.
Fenugreek is used in Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. The word for fenugreek in Amharic is abesh (or abish), and the seed is used in Ethiopia as a natural herbal medicine in the treatment of diabetes.
Fenugreek seeds are thought to be a galactagogue that is often used to increase milk supply in lactating women.
Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breast milk production and its use was associated with increases in milk production. It can be found in capsule form in many health food stores.
Several human intervention trials demonstrated that the anti-diabetic effects of fenugreek seeds ameliorate most metabolic symptoms associated with type-1 and type-2 diabetes in both humans and relevant animal models by reducing serum glucose and improving glucose tolerance.