Fenugreek – Trigonella foenum-graecum
An annual plant in the family Fabaceae, with leaves consisting of three small obovate to oblong leaflets. It is cultivated worldwide as a semiarid crop, and its seeds are a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian subcontinent. Fenugreek is believed to have been brought into cultivation in the Near East. While Zohary and Hopf are uncertain which wild strain of the genus Trigonella gave rise to domesticated fenugreek, its charred seeds have been recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, (carbon dated to 4000 BC) and Bronze Age levels of Lachish and desiccated seeds from the tomb ofTutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists fenugreek with clover and vetch as crops grown to feed cattle. In the 1st century AD, in Galilee, it was grown as a food staple, as Josephus mentions it in his book, the Wars of the Jews. A compendium of Jewish oral law known as the Mishnah (compiled in the 2nd century) mentions the plant under its Hebrew name, tiltan.
Fenugreek is used as an 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-colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes such as panch phoron and sambar powder. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor.
Safety: Fenugreek should not be taken by pregnant women
Country of origin: India
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