Fenugreek Seeds History:
Fenugreek, or trigonella foenum-graecum, originated in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It appears that they have been cultivated and used for several thousand years, with evidence of them dating back to 4000 BC. Although the fenugreek plant produces fragrant leaves used as an herb, the plant’s seeds are more widely available and commonly used as a household spice.
Fenugreek Seeds Uses:
Fenugreek has long been used for its medicinal qualities, specifically in traditional Chinese medicine. It is thought that fenugreek can improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels, while helping to prevent obesity and some cancers. It may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Although fenugreek may come with benefits, when taken in higher quantities, some report allergic reactions as well as GI disturbance. It is not recommended that children, pregnant adults, or those taking prescription drugs consume large amounts of fenugreek or for medicinal purposes. Always consult your physician when beginning a new supplement regimen.
Fenugreek Seeds Benefits:
Fenugreek seeds have a sweet and mildly bitter flavor with a smell reminiscent of maple syrup. It is, in fact, often a key ingredient in the production of imitation maple syrup. It’s thought that by toasting the seeds in a dry pan, much of the bitterness will fade. They can then be used whole in the cooking process or ground with a mortar and pestle or food processor to create a powder. Some cultures begin by toasting the seeds, either alone or with other spices, in a pan with oil. This intensifies the flavor of the spice, while flavoring the oil. The oil can then be used to impart rich flavor in the dish.
Fenugreek is often used in spice blends and curries, as well as used in pickling and to season meats and vegetables. It’s also used in sweet dishes such as mediterranean and middle eastern cookies, breads, and cakes. Ground fenugreek seeds are often preferred in the making of sweet dishes as it can be uniformly incorporated into flour mixtures.