Fenugreek which is used both as a herb and a spice belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is a semi-arid crop cultivated worldwide. Fenugreek, also known as Greek Hay or
Methi, is a plant generally grown as a potherb; the seeds of the plant are used as a spice. Though native to Eastern Mediterranean region, the plant is grown worldwide. Fenugreek can be used as both
as a herb and as a spice. The leaves of the plant are used as a culinary herb, while the seeds are used as a spice for flavoring.
Indian Name : Methi
Botanical Name : Trigonella foenum-graecum
Family Name : Fabaceae
Parts Used : Seed
Habitat : Eastern Meditarranean
Uses of Fenugreek
- The spice is used as a milk producing agent by nursing mothers.
- Fenugreek is mostly used for food flavoring in a number of cuisines and products like sauces, curry powders, pickles and other spicy dishes.
- Natural fenugreek seeds are processed for use in alcoholic beverages and perfumery.
- It is believed that Fenugreek is used to treat various physical disorders:
It is believed that Fenugreek is used to treat various physical disorders:
- Reduces the sugar level of the blood
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Reduces congestion
- Reduces inflammation
- Fight infection.
- Treats sinus and lung congestion
- Helps in loosening excess mucus and phlegm
- Natural source of iron, silicon, sodium and thiamine.
- Mucilaginous in Fenugreek helps in relaxing inflamed tissues.
- Reduces perspiration, fevers, treats allergies, bronchitis and congestion.
The essential oil components of Fenugreek seed is very less containing n-alkanes, sesquiterpenes, alkanoles and lactones. The aroma is defined by hemiterpenoid ?-lactone, sotolone (3-hydroxy-4,5-dimethyl-2(5H)-furanone). The nutty flavor is due to heterocyclic compounds. They also contains sesquiterpenes. The bitter taste is attributed to the furostanol glycosides.
Fenugreek is the small seed that is produced from the pod of a bean-like plant. Natural Fenugreek seeds are angular, yellowish brown in appearance and are very hard. Some other shapes in which these seeds come are oblong, rhombic or cubic. The seed is split by two deep furrows. They are available in both the grounded form or as a whole seed form. When the seeds are grounded they give spicy smell. These natural fenugreek seeds have aromatic and bittersweet flavor.
The plant's height ranges between 30-60 cm (1-2 ft.). Leaves are toothed, grey-green and obovate. The root of the plant resembles fingery structures. The flowers are white or pale yellow. The pods that carry the seeds are thin and sword shaped. Each pod consist of 10 to 20 seeds. The plant bears a spicy odor. The climate that is more suitable for its growth is mild Mediterranean climate. Plant maturity period is four months. After maturity plants are uprooted, dries and then thrashed to get the seeds
Forms of Fenugreek
- Powdered form
- Fenugreek oil
Trade in Fenugreek Spice
The natural fenugreek seeds are extensively traded in the international market. Leaves are also used to flavor curries. India, Egypt, Iran, France, Lebanon and Morocco are the prime producers and exporters of fenugreek. The trade in the Fenugreek Seeds has been increasing at a consistent rate in the past few years.
India is one of the largest producer of the Fenugreek Seeds. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal are the main production areas. US is the major importer of Natural Fenugreek seeds. The country exports the spice in whole, powdered or in the form of oil.