Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum, native to Southern Europe and Asia, is an erect annual herb with white flowers and hard, yellowish brown and angular seeds. Commonly known as methi in Hindi and vendhayam in Tamil, it is a popular ingredient in many North and South Indian dishes and home remedies.
Fenugreek seeds and leaves are strongly aromatic and flavorful. The seeds are bitter in taste, but lose their bitterness if lightly roasted. They are rich in vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A, B6, and C, and are a rich storehouse of many minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, manganese, and magnesium. Fenugreek leaves are a rich source of vitamin K as well.
Fenugreek is used as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds), and vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Sotolon is the chemical responsible for fenugreek's distinctive sweet smell. Cuboid-shaped, yellow- to amber-coloured fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes dal, and spice mixes such as panch phoron and sambar powder. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavour.