Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a plant that stands around 2–3 feet (60–90 cm) tall. It has green leaves, small white flowers, and pods that contain small, golden-brown seeds. It is native to the Mediterranean region, southern Europe, and western Asia. The seeds are used in cooking, in medicine, and to hide the taste of other medicine.
For thousands of years, fenugreek has been used in alternative and Chinese medicine to treat skin conditions and many other diseases.
Fenugreek is used as a herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds), and vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Sotolon is the chemical responsible for the distinctive maple syrup smell of fenugreek.
Cuboid-shaped, yellow- to amber-colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, dal, and spice mixes such aspanch phoron and sambar powder. They are often roasted to reduce inherent bitterness and to enhance flavor. It is also commonly used in Turkish, Persian, Georgian, and Middle Eastern cooking. It is also used as a flavoring agent in imitation maple syrup, foods, beverages, and tobacco. In manufacturing, fenugreek extracts are used in soaps and cosmetics.