Fenugreek Leaves and Seeds (Methi) -- Know Your Ingredient

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Fenugreek is the native to western Asia and southeastern Europe, it has a long history of culinary and medicinal use. Fresh leaves of fenugreek have strong aroma and taste mildly pungent. While the dried seeds has much strong aroma and flavor to them. The robust herb has light green leaves, the fenugreek seeds are hard in texture and yellowish in color tone. India is one of the major producers and exporters of fenugreek.

Natives names: Hindi (Methi), Kannada (Menthya), Tamil (Vendayam or Venthiyam)

How to select: To select the fresh leaves always pick those without any wilted leaves and also the color of the leaves should be light green without any shades of yellow.

How to store: The leaves should be washed only when you are ready to use them. Once you buy the leaves, remove the roots and pluck out the leaves, dust the excess soil and place the plucked out leaves in a cotton napkin. Wrap the napkin with the leaves tightly and place it in a zip lock bag. This will keep the leaves fresh for a couple of days. Once the leaves are bought, try to use them within 3 to 4 days to get the maximum freshness. Dried methi leaves and seeds can be stored at room temperature in an airtight box. Ground fenugreek powder loses its aroma and color soon, so it is always best to make it as and when required it in small quantities.

Culinary Uses: In the Indian Cuisine Fenugreek is most commonly used, both in its fresh and dried form. Fenugreek fresh leaves are used in many dry vegetables, curries, meat, flatbreads and rice dishes. Dried methi leaves are used to flavor gravy dishes and to add aroma. Whereas Fenugreek seeds (methi dana) are an essential ingredient for making Indian pickles, spice powders and for tempering the dals/curries. Fenugreek Seeds (methi dana) is also one of the five elements of the Bengali everyday spice - panch phoron and the South Indian Sambar Powder. The methi powder when consumed along with yogurt help in digestion too.

Health Benefits: Fenugreek is a good source of protein, minerals and vitamins. Fenugreek fresh leaves and stems are rich in calcium, iron, carotene, Vitamin A, C and ascorbic acid. Fenugreek has good properties for sugar and lipid control. Fenugreek seeds contain a high level of dietary fiber, that can provide benefits like slowing gastric emptying; preventing the rapid uptake of glucose from the small intestine, thus reducing blood sugar levels. Fenugreek is also used for digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, constipation and many more digestive problems.