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Gettin' jiggy with fenugreek

Fenugreek you say? What the heck is fenugreek? It's a spice popular in India, northern Africa, and the Middle East that has multiple benefits for PCOS:

--it can lower your lipids
--it can help to control blood sugar
--it can help improve milk production in women who have trouble breastfeeding
--antioxidant action in the face of high blood glucose

In women struggling with lactation, fenugreek tea (made with the leaves of the plant) has been found to be beneficial. The Fenugreek spice has been added to flour to provide functional properties and it has found to be beneficial in this format as well.

And since we're on the topic of hair loss this week, here's an Ayurvedic remedy using Fenugreek:

Mix ground fenugreed seeds with water and yogurt to make a paste. Rub into hair and wash after 30 minutes.

I'm giving you two recipes, the first one from India, and the second one from Ethiopia. If you like spicy foods, you're going to love adding this herb/spice to your culinary creations!

Methi Murgh (fenugreek chicken) from

1/4 cup cooking oil
1 (4 to 6 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (skin removed and discarded)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom pod
4 whole cloves
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
4 green chile peppers, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh fenugreek leaves
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
salt to taste
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala


1.Heat the oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat; brown the chicken pieces evenly on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from cooker and set aside. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pod, cloves, onion slices, ginger-garlic paste, and green chile peppers to the pressure cooker and cook until the onions are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir the spinach, fresh fenugreek leaves, dried fenugreek leaves, turmeric, red pepper, and salt into the mixture and cook until the spinach and fenugreek leaves begin to wilt and darken in color, about 5 minutes. Pour the water over the mixture and return the chicken pieces to the pressure cooker; bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

2.Fasten the lid on the pressure cooker; cook until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Release pressure fully and remove the lid; sprinkle the garam masala over the dish. Cook and stir until the liquid thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Berbere — spiced lentil stew from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant


2 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 whole cloves
3/4 teaspoons cardamom seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
8 — 10 small dried red chiles
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root (1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a small frying pan, on medium-low heat, toast the cumin, whole cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, allspice, fenugreek, and coriander for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Discard the stems from the chiles. In a spice grinder or wtih a mortar and pestle, finely grind together the toasted spices and the chiles. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Store Berbere refrigerated in a well-sealed jar or a tightly closed plastic bag.

Yemiser W'et (Spicy Lentil Stew)

1 cup dried brown lentils
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 clarified butter
1 tablespoon Berbere
1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
plain yogurt or cottage cheese

Rinse and cook the lentils.

Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in the clarified butter, until the onions are just translucent. Add the berbere, cumin, and paprika and saute for a few minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mix in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock and continue simmering.

When the lentils are cooked, drain them and mix them into the saute. Add the green peas and cook for another 5 mintues. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Roberts KT. The Potential of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) as a Functional Food and Nutraceutical and Its Effects on Glycemia and Lipidemia. J Med Food. 2011 Aug 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Middha SK, Bhattacharjee B, Saini D, Baliga MS, Nagaveni MB, Usha T. Protective role of Trigonella foenum graceum extract against oxidative stress in hyperglycemic rats. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2011 Apr;15(4):427-35.
Turkyılmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu IM, Turan O, Koç E, Ergenekon E, Atalay Y. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch-up of birth weight in the first week of life. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):139-42. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

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