Fenugreek is an ancient spice and is mostly used in Middle East, Northern- Eastern Africa and India, especially for pickles. Ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent. It is the seed of quick growing annual leguminous herb. The fresh fruit has a pleasant odor, reminiscent of maple. Fenugreek is used both as an herb (the leaves) and as a spice (the seed). Fenugreek seed whole consist of dried ripe seed of Trigonella Foneum-Graecum. The color is caramel to light brownish-yellow. Odor and taste are typical, a bit of celery and bitter. It is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop. Fenugreek Seed are small stony seeds from the pod of a bean-like plant. These whole and ground fenugreek seeds are also available in dried form, or as a dull yellow powder form. Ground from the roasted seeds as dry roasting enhances the flavor and reduces the bitterness.. Spice produces thermally developed flavors as is seen during roasting of similar products. On roasting color turns darker due to caramelization. Interaction of proteins and carbohydrates initiates Maillard reaction. It has negligible amount of essential oil and as such dried spice has very little aroma .The fixed oil has mild celery-like odor and is extremely tenacious and therefore has attracted the attention of fragrance industry.
Fenugreek seed is one of the world’s oldest medicinal herbs. It is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. It can be found in capsule form in many health food stores. It is also used as a conditioner when mixed with yogurt. It helps in reducing the blood sugar level and blood pressure, it is rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins In India, fenugreek seeds are mixed with yogurt and used as a conditioner for hair. It is also used as a digestive aid. The seeds are also soaked and then powdered and used to make lip balm and tonic.
In India, its fresh leaves are eaten as a tasty vegetable, which is prepared like Spinach. Whole and ground fenugreek seeds are exported in whole, powder form as well as oil. The yellow, rhombic fenugreek seed used in the preparation of pickles, curry powders and pastes. The young leaves and sprouts are eaten as greens and the fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor other dishes. Used in curry powders, in many mixtures, especially vindaloo and the hot curries of Sri Lanka .It is used to make home-made powders. Many chutneys and pickles incorporate it and it gives a tangy aroma to vegetables. The leaves, both fresh and dried, are used in meat curries, dal and vegetable dishes and chutneys. . It is mainly used in spices or curry powder and excellent for fish and sea food dishes, candy, baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum and soft drinks. Fenugreek’s leaves, which are high in iron, are used in salads.