Fenugreek is one of the earliest spices known to man. It has a long history as culinary and a medicinal herb in the ancient world. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used fenugreek for medicinal and culinary purposes. In ancient Egypt it was used for the mummification process. During the Middle Ages it was used as a medicinal plant in Europe. Iran has a very rich tradition in cooking with fenugreek leaves. Fenugreek is also used in Northern and Eastern Africa as well as Western, Central and Southern Asia. Ethiopian spice mixture berebere include small amounts of fenugreek. It is indigenous to western Asia and southeastern Europe and was introduced in India by Arab traders.
Fenugreek belongs to the bean family trigonella foenumgracum. It blooms white flowers in the summer and has very aromatic seeds. Small and oblong shaped yellowish brown seeds of the fenugreek plant have a warm and slightly bitter taste. Rich in vitamins and minerals, and because it is a seed and a legume, it is high in protein. Fenugreek is considered a digestive aid. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces sugar level in blood. Both fresh leaves and seeds of fenugreek are used in Indian cuisine. Although fenugreek is a legume it is widely used as a spice in India and it is an integral part of many Indian spice blends. Uncooked fenugreek seeds have an unpleasant, bitter taste, so the seeds are usually roasted and ground before use to mellow the bitterness. Dry roasting enhances the flavor and reduces the bitterness of fenugreek seeds. It needs close attention while toasting; it turns reddish brown and taste very bitter when over roasted.