Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Fenugreek is usually used in curry. The leaves are used as a herb and the seed as a spice.

Fenugreek is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop, and major producing countries are India, Pakistan, Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Morocco, China, France, and Spain. India is the largest producer in the world and Rajasthan's production accounts for 80% of India total output. Fenugreek is known as "venthyam" in Tamil.

The young leaves and sprouts of fenugreek are eaten as greens. The fresh and dried leaves are also used to flavor other dishes. The dried leaves (called Qasuri methi) have a bitter taste and strong smell. Fenugreek seeds are yellow to amber color, and are frequently used in preparation of pickles, curry powders, and pastes in Indian subcontinent cuisines.

Fenugreek is known as "holba" in Afghanistan, and is used in the preparation of a spinach-based dish known as Qormeh Sabzi. An Afghan speciality called Sholeh Holba is a rich and sweet rice pudding made with fenugreek, made for the purpose of regaining one's strength and given to athletes and women after childbirth. In Egypt, a tea made by boiling fenugreek seeds then sweetened is a popular winter drink served in coffee shops.

Fenugreek seeds are thought to be a galactagogue that is often used to increase milk supply in lactating women. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breastmilk production, with an increase of as much as 900% in milk production. Fenugreek seeds are ground to a powder and administered in capsules, and can be found in many health food stores. Fenugreek seeds are rich in polysaccharide galactomannan, and also a source of saponins such as diosgenin, yamogenin, gitogenin, tigogenin, and neotigogens.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, fenugreek seeds are used as a herb under the name Hu Lu Ba, to warm and tonifies kidneys, disperse cold and alleviate pain. They are used raw or toasted.

Fenugreek is frequently used in the production of flavoring for artificial maple syrups, as maple syrup is more expensive.

In the Malay language, fenugreek is known as halba , and the seeds are often included in the preparation of a traditional dessert called butir nangka, which is very popular around Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting).

Fenugreek leaves (Qasuri Methi)Fenugreek leaves (Qasuri Methi)
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

Dried Fenugreek leaves (Qasuri Methi)Dried Fenugreek leaves (Qasuri Methi)
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)
Author: MathKnight (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

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