Fenugreek / Methi
Fenugreek, a member of the legume family, derives its name from Latin and means “Greek hay”, which is a nod to its classical use as feed for cattle. Today, fenugreek isn’t just for the cows but is a mainstay in Indian, Pakistani, Iranian and other Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisines.
In India, fenugreek is used both fresh–like spinach–and dried, its leaves imparting a nutty aroma as they simmer in curries or sprinkled over vegetable dishes as a finishing touch. The hard seeds of the fenugreek plant–yellowish-brown and somewhat octagonal–have a pungent bitterness (a bit like celery) to its flavor and are often toasted before grinding, which brings out a sweet taste. (Fenugreek is actually used commercially as a base for imitation maple syrup.) Fenugreek seeds are used to flavor curries, dals, poultry, vegetable dishes, chutneys, breads, and pickles.
Fenugreek seed is an essential ingredient in most curry powders and constitutes one of the components of Indian five spice (panch phoron).
Fenugreek boasts many health benefits, including its role in:
- easing stomach troubles as a digestive aid
- reducing blood sugar levels (it is used in conjunction with insulin to treat diabetes)
- lowering blood pressure
- relieving congestion
- reducing inflammation
- fighting infection
- promoting lactation
- dried leaves
- ground seeds
Omit from recipe if without fenugreek, otherwise, to substitute fresh fenugreek, use fresh spinach. To substitute ground fenugreek, try curry powder, as many curry powders contain a good amount of fenugreek.