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Jewish Recipes --> Spices and Ingredients -- > List of Herbs --> Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae. The plant has small round leaves, is cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop, and is a common ingredient in dishes from the Indian Subcontinent.

Cuisine

Fenugreek has three culinary uses: as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), as a spice (seeds), and as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Sotolon is the chemical responsible for fenugreek's distinctive sweet smell.

The distinctive cuboid-shaped, yellow-to-amber colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. The seeds are used in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes, such as panch phoron and sambar powder. Fenugreek seeds are used both whole and in powdered form and are often roasted to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavor.

Fenugreek is also used as a vegetable. Fresh fenugreek leaves are an ingredient in some Indian curries. The sprouted seeds and microgreens are used in salads. When harvested as microgreens, fenugreek is known as Samudra Methi in Maharashtra, especially in and around Mumbai, where it is often grown near the sea in the sandy tracts, hence the name (Samudra, which means "ocean" in Sanskrit). Samudra Methi is also grown in dry river beds in the Gangetic plains. When sold as a vegetable in India, the young plants are harvested with their roots still attached. Any remaining soil is washed off to extend their shelf life. They are then sold in small bundles in the markets and bazaars.

In Persian cuisine, fenugreek leaves are used and called شنبلیله (shanbalile). It is the key ingredient and one of several greens incorporated into ghormeh sabzi and Eshkeneh, often said to be the Iranian national dishes.

Fenugreek is used in Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine.The word for fenugreek in Amharic is abesh (or abish), and the seed is used in Ethiopia as a natural herbal medicine in the treatment of diabetes.

Yemenite Jews following the interpretation of Rabbi Salomon Isaacides, Rashi of Talmūd, believe fenugreek, which they call hilbeh, hilba, helba, or halba (חילבה) is the Talmudic Rubia (רוביא). They use fenugreek to produce a sauce also called hilbeh, reminiscent of curry. It is consumed daily but ceremoniously during the meal of the first and/or second night of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year).

Nutritional profile

Fenugreek leaves (per 100 g of edible portion) contain the following nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates: 6.0 g
  • Protein: 4.4 g
  • Fat: 0.9 g
  • Minerals: 1.5 g
  • Calcium: 395 mg
  • Phosphorus: 51 mg
  • Iron: 1.93 mg
  • Total energy: 49 kcal

 

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods