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Fenugreek is a leguminous plant belonging to the pea family. The seeds are oval, flat, very hard and mid-brown in colour. Exceedingly bitter to the taste, the seeds are most often used roasted, ground and then used as flavouring in curries.
The leaves are also used as a vegetable and as a flavouring herb. Fenugreek leaves have a strong flavour and smell and are used in Turkey, some Arabian countries and in India.
In India, every part of the fenugreek plant is used. Since it has a short growing season, that is the late winter and early spring months in north India, it is used both fresh as a leafy green vegetable and dried for the time that it is not available. The leaves, both fresh and dried, are used in meat curries, dal, vegetable dishes and chutneys. In the winter months, an amalgam of leafy greens is cooked together, of which fenugreek greens are an integral part.
As a dried herb, it is used to flavour the classical Mughlai dish Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani. The dried fenugreek gives its luscious tomato gravy a unique flavour. It is also one of the ingredients in the making of khakhra, a type of griddle-cooked, whole wheat, crispbread from Gujarat, India. It is an ingredient of [[panchphoron]], the Indian five-spice mixture from Bengal and Orissa. The roasted ground seeds are infused as a coffee substitute or adulterant.
Elsewhere, fenugreek is used to flavour Ethiopian, Turkish, Yemenese, Iranian and Egyptian food. In Egypt, fenugreek seeds are prepared as tea by infusing the seeds in hot water.
The major use of fenugreek is in curry powders, figuring in many mixtures, especially vindaloo from Sri Lanka. Many chutneys and pickles incorporate it and it gives a tangy aroma to vegetables.