Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Very interesting article on fenugreek Ancient Spice and Herb.

It is called METHIKA in Sanskrit and Methi in modern Indian languages.
As the article says there is Ghoda / Horse Methi and Methi / Fenugreek for human consumption.
The Methi is almost of daily use in the Indian cuisine as it is a part of some Masala / Spice mixture or the other.
Kasuri Methi is dried leaves of Methi probably from Kasur, a place in Punjab. Fragrant.
The fresh leaves are used for preparing vegetable dishes :: Maharashtrian Curry Gram Flour called Besan, 
With with potatoes / Punjabi Allo_Methi, Fritters / Gujarati Methi Muthias.
Many Punjabis and Sikhs flavour their Chicken and Mutton Curries with fresh Methi / Fenugreek leaves.
Yum Yum, though slightly bitter.
The diabetics use it.
Its Laddoos made with Wheat Flour and sugar are eaten by lactating mothers.  
It is also a coagulating agent.  

..Ancient Egypt's perfumes, unguents and cosmetic preparations were famed for their exotic ingredients. Spikenard, myrrh, and galbanum: these fragrances remain as rare and precious as they were thousands of years ago. Other ingredients, such as lotuses, roses, and geraniums, although somewhat less rare, retain their aura of luxury.
Yet, not all of ancient Egypt's prized botanicals were so rare. One in particular, a modest, inexpensive, unobtrusive plant maintains its magical reputation even today. Fenugreek's Latin designation, Trigonella foenum-graecum, ("Greek hay") refers to its historical use as horse fodder. The plant was mixed with lesser-quality hay to make it more appetizing and appealing to the horses. Of particular interest to humans were the seeds of the fenugreek plant.
One of the oldest medicinal plants, fenugreek's earliest recorded use dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Both Hippocrates and Pliny also refer to the herb. Remains have been found in Egypt from as early as 3000BCE. Fenugreek seeds were found in Tutankhamun's tomb. Unlike the more exotic botanicals, fenugreek, indigenous to the Mediterranean region, was easily available.
Zohary and Hopf note that it is not certain which wild strain of the genus Trigonella gave rise to domesticated fenugreek: they believe it was brought into cultivation in the Near East. Charred fenugreek seeds have been recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, (carbon dated to 4000 BC) and Bronze Age levels of Lachish and desiccated seeds from the tomb ofTutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists fenugreek with clover andvetch as crops grown to feed cattle.


Major fenugreek-producing countries are Afghanistan,PakistanIndiaIranNepalBangladeshArgentinaEgypt,FranceSpainTurkey and Morocco. The largest producer isIndia, where the major producing states are Rajasthan,GujaratUttarakhandUttar PradeshMadhya Pradesh,MaharashtraHaryana, and Punjab - Rajasthan accounts for over 80% of India's output.
Yet, beyond the culinary and the mild medicinal uses, this seemingly lowly herb also bears something of a super-natural reputation, transcending the boundaries between magic, medicine and cosmetics. Fenugreek's key word is "increase." A tea made from the seeds is a staple recipe for increasing mother's milk. It also has a reputation for stimulating breast growth: smaller-breasted Turkish harem women were said to bathe their breasts in fenugreek seed water, although whether the results were consistently satisfactory is unknown. Fenugreek, despite its bitter taste, has both an ancient and modern reputation as an aphrodisiac. In folkloric use, fenugreek has been relied upon to increase a family's fortunes. The seeds added to water and then sprinkled throughout the home are reputed to increase cash flow. Another old money spell suggests daily adding fenugreek seeds to a jar. When the jar is full, it is tightly capped and buried in Earth for safekeeping.
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.
Distinctive cuboid-shaped, yellow-to-amber colored fenugreek seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. They are used in the preparation ofpickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes such as panch phoron and sambar powder. They are used both whole and in powdered form and are often roasted to reduce their bitterness and enhance their flavor.

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, "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 called شنبلیله(shanbalile). They are 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 it to produce a sauce also called hilbeh,reminiscent of curry. It is consumed daily and ceremoniously during the meal of the first and/or second night of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year).

Another ancient preparation skirts the border between a magic potion and cosmetic preparation. Fenugreek is believed to be the sole ingredient of an ancient oil reputed to transform "an old man into a young man." If the ingredient was simple, preparations for the ancient formula were quite complex. Two sacks stuffed with fenugreek plants were required. These must then be "broken up" and left in the sun to dry. When completely dry, they must be threshed, winnowed and finally divided into two piles: seeds and pods. Equal quantities of these were then combined, mixed with some water, kneaded into what is translated as a "dough" and then boiled in a pot of water. (With customary ancient attention to detail, the old formula specifies that it be a clean pot.) The boiling process is finished when the water has completed evaporated and the botanic material is completely dried out. It is then cooled, once again placed in a pot and repeatedly washed in river water, until that water reveals no bitter taste. Once again the material is to be dried in the sun, then ground on a millstone. Again the remains are steeped in water and formed into a "soft dough." This is then placed within a pot and gently and slowly simmered over a fire. The product is ready when oil begins to rise to the surface. This oil is the final magic unguent. It is skimmed from the surface with a spoon and strained into a stone jar lined with clay. According to the old papyrus, rubbing the body with this unguent leaves the skin beautiful and without blemishes. (As this is the promised result, presumably the stimulation of youth is in appearance, rather than vigor or attitude. As the Egyptians, like ourselves, seemed to have a horror of wrinkles, looking young may have been considered more important than feeling young.)
Unlike some other venerable formulae, which recommend such beauty products as crocodile's dung or lion's milk, this old potion is theoretically possible to re-create, should one have a supply of fresh fenugreek and the time and patience of the ancients. I suppose if one truly wishes to rely upon the youth-stimulating properties, it may be necessary to follow the formula exactly. However, if one merely wants to avail oneself of fenugreek's skin-softening properties while basking in the aura of the ancients, quicker, easier versions can be created.
Unlike our ancient friends, who had to thresh and winnow for themselves, you can find dried fenugreek seeds in the spice aisle of a good supermarket or Middle-Eastern market. How much of the potency of the old formula derives from the seeds and how much from the pods, Nile River water and clay may be impossible to determine. The only part of the fenugreek plant that is readily available commercially is the seeds. The river water was probably believed to carry some magical power and even today, bentonite and other clays are a fixture of facial masks. Be that as it may, another product beloved of the ancient Egyptians can be substituted: oil. The ancient Egyptians loved good quality vegetable oil. Unlike fenugreek, oil could be expensive. On the other hand, today the time and effort required by the old spell is a priceless luxury for many. Fine quality oils, the envy of the ancients, on the other hand, are readily available. Vegetable oils, mainly derived from seeds and fruits, also have specific therapeutic benefits. So the key is to carefully choose a vegetable oil that complements fenugreek's cosmetic powers while maintaining something of an ancient Egyptian aura.
Which oil to choose? The ancient Egyptians would have desired balanos oil. It was considered their finest cosmetic oil, a component of many preparations and unguents. This oil was derived from the fruit of a thorny tree, Balanites aegyptiaca, once common in the Nile Valley, but now rare. To the best of my knowledge, this oil is not commercially available. (If anyone knows differently, please let me know!) Their second choice would have beenbehen oil, also known as ben oil, oil deriving from the nuts of the Moringa or horseradish tree. Particularly favored for cosmetic and fragrance preparations as it has only a very slight and pleasing aroma plus a long shelf life, it is believed beneficial for the complexion, particularly for dry and/or aging skin. This ancient oil remains available although the intrepid shopper may have to order it from India. (A source follows at the end of the article.) Another choice, more easily obtained would be sweet almond oil. The Egyptians did have a version of almond oil, although it is believed to have derived from a different species than the one commonly available from aromatherapy supply houses.

Quick Fix Fenugreek Youth Serum
One teaspoon dried fenugreek seeds
One quarter cup vegetable oil (ben or sweet almond suggested)
Crush the seeds lightly in a mortar and pestle and add them to the oil. Allow them to soak for half an hour. Strain the seeds from the oil. Gently massage the oil into your skin, while thinking "youthful" thoughts and hope for the best!
Fenugreek seeds are thought to be a galactagogue, often used to increase milk supply in lactating mothers.


A June 2011 study at the Australian Centre for Integrative Clinical and Molecular Medicine found that men aged 25 to 52 who took a fenugreek extract twice daily for six weeks scored 25% higher on tests gauging libido levels than those who took a placebo. Fenugreek seeds contain a high level of palmitoylethanolamide, more than 25%. Palmitoylethanolamide is a endogenous lipid, which can be found in many plants and animals, but never in such high concentrations. Palmitoylethanolamide has been proven to be a natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory compound. An ancient remedy for bronchial infections and tuberculosis, a poultice of the pulverized seeds was used to treat cuts, wounds, sores, skin irritations and swollen glands. For cosmetic purposes, fenugreek has a reputation as a skin softener and in Western herbalist teaching is often a component of soothing facial masks. Pliny includes it as a supplemental ingredient in Myrtinum (myrtle unguent), among the most popular Egyptian unguents of his time.
Fenugreek is still common throughout Egypt and the Middle East. More widely known by its modern Arabic name, hilbeh,it remains a popular food. The eponymous dip, hilbeh, is a staple of Yemenite cuisine. Many ancient Yemenites attribute their longevity to its consumption. In modern Egypt, the seeds are added to bread and the sprouted seeds included in salads. Still a component of Egyptian folk medicine, fenugreek seeds are soaked, sprouted then taken to soothe fevers and stomach disorders.


Dried fenugreek seed
Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequatebreast milk supply. Studies have shown that it is a potent stimulator of breast milk production and its use was associated with increases in milk production. It can be found in capsule form in many health food stores.
Several human intervention trials demonstrated that the antidiabetic effects of fenugreek seeds ameliorate most metabolic symptoms associated with type-1 and type-2diabetes in both humans and animals by reducing serum glucose and improving glucose tolerance.

No comments:

Post a Comment