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Fenugreek, also called methi, is a crop plant grown as a potherb and for the spice made fromits seeds. The fenugreek plant grows wild from the eastern Mediterranean areato China;it is cultivated worldwide. The name fenugreek or foenum-graecum is from Latinfor "Greek hay". Fenugreek is used both as an herb (the leaves) andas a spice (the seed). The yellow, rhombic fenugreek seed is frequently used inthe preparation of pickles, curry powders and pastes, and is often encounteredin the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent and Thailand. The young leaves andsprouts of fenugreek are eaten as greens and the fresh or dried leaves are usedto flavor other dishes. The dried leaves have a bitter taste and a strongcharacteristic smell which means they need to be used sparingly.
In the Arabian nation of Yemenit is the main condiment and an ingredient added to the national dish calledSaltah. The similarity in the Arabic word Hulba and Mandarin Chinese word Hu luba reveal the significance of fenugreek in history. Fenugreek is also one offour herbs used for the Iranian recipe Ghormeh Sabzi. Dried fenugreek leaves(called kasuri methi) are used in Indian and Pakistani dishes such as dahls,including in the Bengali spice mixture panch phoron.
A sideeffect of consuming even small amounts of fenugreek is a maple syrup or currysmell in the eater's sweat and urine which is caused by the potent aromacompound sotolone. Fenugreek is frequently used in the production of flavoringfor artificial syrups. The taste of toasted fenugreek is additionally based onsubstituted pyrazines, as is cumin. By itself, it has a somewhat bitter taste.Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) bynursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. It has also beenused to increase breast size. It can be found in capsule form in many healthfood stores.
In India it ismixed with yogurt and used as a conditioner for hair. It is also one of theingredients in the making of injera/taita, a type of bread unique to Ethiopianand Eritrean cuisine. The word for fenugreek in Amharic is abesh, which is alsooften used as a natural herbal medicine in the treatment of diabetes. It isalso sometimes used as an ingredient in the production of clarified butter(Amharic: qibé, Ethiopian and Eritrean Tigrinya: tesme), which is similar toIndian ghee. In Turkey,fenugreek gives its name, "çemen", to a hot paste used in pastirma.
Recentlyfenugreek has found its way into some bodybuilding supplements as it issuggested it may help stimulate testosterone production, although there islittle evidence for this