Harem women of the East ate the seeds to give themselves a pleasing plumpness.
In India the young plants are used as a vegetable and the seeds as a spice.
Fenugreek is one of the oldest cultivated plants and has been grown in Egypt and India for thousands of years. The early Egyptians recognized it as a health-giving plant and used it as a medicine, for food and in religious ceremonies.
In Ethiopia fenugreek seeds (abish) are used extensively as a spice, a food and a medicine. The green part of the plant is of great nutritive value, because of the content of calcium, iron, carotene and ascorbic acid in the leaves.
Fenugreek is on the mild side of hot as a flavoring. Fenugreek is the small stony seeds from the pod of a bean-like plant. The seeds are hard, yellowish brown and angular. They are available whole and dried , or as a dull yellow powder, ground from the roasted seeds.
The bouquet of this plant is warm and penetrating, becoming more pronounced when the seeds are roasted. Ground, they give off a ‘spicy’ smell, pungent, like an inferior curry powder. It offers a powerful, aromatic and bittersweet, flavor somewhat like burnt sugar. If you eat is uncooked there is a bitter aftertaste, similar to celery or lovage.
The seeds are used with other spices in the wot or they can be used to flavour injera. In infant-feeding it is common to give the infant the third or fourth decoction of the seeds. The seeds contain around 22% of protein and the decoction about 5%.