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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Trigonella foenum-graecum Leguminosae India, the Mediterranean

Cultivated since the time of the ancient Egyptians, fenugreek was used not only as a medicinal and culinary spice, but also as cattle feed. The Egyptians used fenugreek for medicinal purposes, but also included it as a spice in the mummification process. Throughout the Middle Ages, fenugreek was cultivated mostly for curative properties and is still used today in the medical treatment of animals and by humans in some Eastern countries.

Fenugreek, meaning "Greek hay" in Latin, comes from a small, lean plant in the bean family. Seeds are found within a pod and are horn shaped and brown. Starting off with a taste similar to burnt maple syrup or sugar, fenugreek's flavor ends with a strong bitterness.

In India, fenugreek seeds and leaves are known as Methi.  Fenugreek seed are a main ingredient in curry powder, and the spinach-like leaves play an important role in regional Asian and Indian cuisines. Outside of the Eastern countries, fenugreek is not very popular or common save for in curry powder. Many cooks find it far too bitter.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Fenugreek has a long history as a medicinal herb in India and the Middle East. With a wide array of health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to soothing the scalp, fenugreek is a relatively unknown spice that deserves more recognition.

Historically, fenugreek has been used to:

  • Aid digestion
  • In a poultice, heal boils, cysts, abscesses and other skin irritations
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Increase the production of breast milk
  • Soothes sore throats
  • Reduce fever by increasing perspiration
  • As a carminative
  • As a decongestant

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription or prescription natural or homeopathic substance or pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medication.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Fenugreek is most commonly found in curries however it goes well with many dishes. Sweet, but slightly bitter, it can be added sparingly to just about anything. Too much will result in an unpleasant bitterness. Seeds should always be roasted before using, as they have an unpleasant taste when raw. A small amount of ground fenugreek will complement other spices, however too much will dominate the dish. Fenugreek leaves are also edible and make an excellent addition to any green salad.  Food for thought:

  • 'Briefly' dry-roast fenugreek seeds before crushing. Too much heat promotes bitterness.
  • Add fenugreek seeds to a poultry or meat marinade for a slightly different taste
  • Add fenugreek to homemade curry powder
  • Add ground fenugreek to bread dough for a savory dinner bread
  • Add freshly ground fenugreek seeds to any vegetable dish
  • Roast fresh chopped fenugreek leaves with potatoes (use young leaves without stalks)

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