Fenugreek otherwise known as Methi in Hindi is extremely healthy for you. The tender leaves are used in many Indian dishes and are cooked just as you would any greens such as spinach or chard. Fenugreek leaves give a distinct flavor and aroma to any dish they are added to. Fresh fenugreek leaves can be found at Indian grocery stores but are mostly available only seasonally. Now a days, frozen fenugreek leaves can be bought in the freezer section of Indian grocery stores all year round. These frozen leaves have the same flavor and aroma as fresh fenugreek leaves and look like frozen spinach.
Since it’s hard to find fresh fenugreek leaves all year round, when fresh fenugreek leaves were not in season my Mom would use fenugreek powder instead to evoke that same fenugreek fragrance in her dishes. Fenugreek powder is derived from the fenugreek seeds that form on the fenugreek plants. Fenugreek seeds and fenugreek powder both have a more intense aroma and flavor than fresh leaves but still have all the health benefits of the leaves.
One of my favorite curries growing up was my Mom’s fenugreek spiced potato and spinach curry. Basically in leu of fresh fenugreek leaves she used a combination of fresh spinach (which look like fenugreek leaves) and Fenugreek powder. Fenugreek powder fragranced the potatoes so nicely that Mom kept the spices to a minimum, just cumin seeds, pinch of asafetida and turmeric. Simple, wholesome, healthy and delicious. Here is my Mom’s recipe for a potato and spinach curry spiced with healthy fenugreek.
Fenugreek Spiced Spinach and Potatoes
makes 4 servings
- 5 medium sized potatoes cut into small chunks
- 8 cups cut spinach
- 4 garlic cloves finely crushed (my addition)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp fenugreek powder
- 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
- Chili powder or dried red chili (optional)
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- In a pot heat 2 tbsp oil. Add cumin seeds and let them brown slightly. Lower the heat and then add garlic, turmeric powder, fenugreek powder, red chili and asafoetida powder and mix-into oil – just 2-3 seconds. Immediately add cut potatoes and toss around in oil. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 cup water. Cover and cook potatoes until they are tender.
- Next add all the cut spinach and toss in with the potatoes. Cook covered for 5 more minutes until spinach is wilted. Turn the stove off.
- Squeeze juice of one small lemon.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortillas, chapati or serve as a side dish. Fenugreek spiced potatoes tastes great as a stuffing in wraps and burritos too.
The Many Health Benefits of Fenugreek
There are many wonderful health benefits to fenugreek leaves, seeds, and fenugreek powder. Foremost on that list are the following:
A wonderful herb for women
Good for breastfeeding mothers: According to organicfacts.com “India’s traditional Ayurvedic physicians have recommended fenugreek to nursing mothers for generations. This benefit is attributed to the presence of diosgenin in fenugreek which can help increase the amount of breast milk that is produced by a new Mom. In addition the amount of magnesium and vitamins found in fenugreek also helps to improve the quality of the breast milk”. I remember when I had my eldest daughter Sridevi my Mom would add fenugreek in as many dishes as she could. By the time I had my twins, fenugreek tea was widely available at Whole Foods specifically designed for new Mom’s who are breast-feeding.
Helps reduce symptoms of menstrual discomfort and menopause: Fenugreek helps to ease the process of menstruation and relieves the associated symptoms. Fenugreek is an emmenagogue, meaning that it can open obstructed menses to make the periods go smoothly and comfortably. Research has shown that loss of estrogen is known to cause menopausal symptoms. Fenugreek contains the chemicals diosgenin and estrogenic isoflavones which are similar to the female hormone estrogen, incorporating fenugreek in a woman’s diet is shown to help reduce menopausal symptoms such as mood swings, depression, cramps, and abnormal hunger pangs. Fenugreek also helps keep other hormones in balance and helps to regulate the harmonal changes that occur during menopause in women. source. organicfacts.com
Lowers cholesterol levels
“Many research studies show that fenugreek consumption helps reduce cholesterol levels. It helps reduce the level of LDL cholesterol significantly, which can prevent various conditions like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. Fenugreek is also a rich source of fiber, which scrapes excess cholesterol off the arteries and blood vessels. By lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream, you can reduce the chances of clots forming.” source: organic facts.com
Helps control diabetes
One of the most popular home remedies in India for diabetic patients to control blood sugar is having fenugreek on a daily basis. According to many studies Fenugreek helps control type II diabetes. According to one study, it may also help people with type I diabetes. Studies by Indian researchers revealed that fenugreek added to the diet of type I diabetes patients helped to drop sugar levels by 54%. Because of the presence of the natural fiber galactomannan, fenugreek slows down the rate at which sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. A certain amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoleucine in fenugreek induces the production of insulin helping people with diabetes control blood sugar on a daily basis by slowly releasing insulin to the body rather than in large quantities, the lows and highs of blood sugar become less of an issue for diabetics. source: health line.com
These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of fenugreek – fresh leaves, seeds, or in a spice form. Try adding fenugreek to your foods to reap the many benefits of this aromatic herb.