Fenugreek is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop.
The seeds are used as a spice in curries, pickles and chutneys. The raw seeds are bitter so they are usually roasted gently to develop flavor before grinding (do not overheat as that will turn it red and bitter to the taste). The seeds are very hard, and difficult to grind, a mortar and pestle working best.
Seed extract is used in imitation vanilla, butterscotch and rum flavorings, and is the main flavoring in imitation maple syrup. Fenugreek seeds are also used in candy, baked goods, ice cream, chewing gum and soft drinks. The seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
The seeds may also be spouted and used as a winter salad herb. (Ready in 4 to 6 days) As the sprouts grow, the curry flavor recedes.
The young leaves are a salad herb and can added to other salad greens like watercress for a delicious salad. Fresh or dried leaves are used to flavor other dishes. The dried leaves (called kasuri methi) have a bitter taste and a strong characteristic smell.
Cultivation of Fenugreek
Site: Fenugreek will grow in most soils, but prefers humus rich, well drained soils in an open sunny position.
Propagation: Grow fenugreek from the seed in spring. The seed germinates easily.The plants tend to be small and thin so plant enough seeds to ensure a reasonable crop.
Growing: Thin plants to 4 inches apart. They can be difficult to transplant. Small plants can be grown indoors.
Harvesting: If harvesting the seed, pick the sickle shaped pods individually just as they start to turn brown. Dry them by spreading them on newspaper or in paper bags. When the pods are completely dry they will split thus releasing the seeds.
Culinary Uses: Fenugreek is used extensively in Indian cuisine and is known as "methi" Indians like the fresh leaves, which are eaten as a tasty vegetable and prepared like spinach and sometimes found in Indian yeast bread.
The seed is used in curries and chutneys. Roast gently to develop flavor before grinding. (Overheating will turn the seed red and bitter.) The seeds can also be spouted and used as a winter salad herb (ready in 4 - 6 days). The longer the sprouts grow, the less curry flavor.
Toss sprouted seed leaves into salads. When funegreek is 8 inches tall, eat raw or boil or curr a a vegetable.