Fenugreek is the fruit of an herbaceous, hardy, annual plant native to Southeastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent. The fenugreek plant produces tiny, yellow or white aromatic flowers in late summer. After the flowers have bloomed, long thin seed pods containing at least ten brownish, yellow seeds appear. The plant gives of a fragrant aroma; similar to clover, to which fenugreek is related. It is a yang tonic, nutritive, carminative, uterine stimulant, locally demulcent, alterative, anti-inflammatory, digestive tonic, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, aphrodisiac, aerial parts are antispasmodic
Fenugreek is one of the oldest and most useful herbs known to man. Fenugreek is native all over the Mediterranean region, in southern Asia, where it may have originated, and in the Horn of Africa. Ancient Egyptians ate it as a vegetable, using the seeds to make incense and to embalm mummies.
Fenugreek cultivation needs moderately cool, frost free, and clear sky climate throughout its growth period. Though fenugreek plant can tolerate frost during its active vegetative phase, it becomes vulnerable to frost damage at the flowering and early grain formation stages. Ideal soils for fenugreek production are well-drained, loamy or sandy loam soils. However, fenugreek can be grown in all types of soils provided that they are rich in organic matter with good drainage.
Best sowing time for fenugreek crop in Northern India is last week of October to first week of November. In southern India, fenugreek is grown in both the season kharif (summer crop) as well as rabi (winter crop). Best sowing time for kharif crop is second week of June to July-end and ideal sowing time for rabi crop is first week of October. Crops mature within 90-100 days from showing. Best time for harvesting the crop is when the lower leaves start shedding and pods turn in to yellow color. Manual harvesting is done by cutting the plants with sickles. Seeds are threshed by beating with stick or by rubbing with hands. Seeds are winnowed, cleaned and dried in the sun. Delaying harvest may cause to shattering of seeds.
The young pods and leaves are utilized as a daily consumable vegetable. Dried seeds are used for various culinary and/or medical values. This plant is used as herbs as well as spices.
- Fenugreek leaves are used and cooked as green vegetable in homes.
- Its seeds are added to various cuisines to add flavor.
- It is highly valued for its medicinal uses from ancient times.
- Traditionally it is used to treat bronchial problems, tuberculosis, gout, swollen glands, skin problems, flatulence and low libido.
- The seeds are also used as carminative, tonic, diarrhea, and chronic cough, enlargement of liver, spleen, rickets and diabetes.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FENUGREEK
- Good for lactating mothers
- Reduces menstrual discomfort
- Good for kidney trouble
- Helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases
- Reduces symptoms of menopause
- Helps alleviate type 2 diabetes
- Aids in treating constipation & diarrhea
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Prevents colon cancer
- Caution: fenugreek is not recommended during pregnancy