The Indian cuisine is vast, colorful, and diverse, just like the country itself. One of the many amazing things about our Indian diet is the inclusion of various seasonal leaves, popularly known as "saag." They are all endowed with nutrients that our bodies require during a specific season.
One such popular saag is methi, or fenugreek. In the kitchen, the cute little flavorful leaves are used in a variety of ways.
Cooked as a main dish with peas, potatoes, and cottage cheese, or simply stir-fried, or included in flatbreads – fenugreek is widely famous across India.
Why is it famous?
Perhaps because fenugreek leaves are great sources of vitamin B6, vitamin C, sodium, potassium, and calcium.
This blog will discuss fenugreek leaves at length. We will discover the following: -
- Unknown facts about fenugreek plant
- How to grow methi saag or fenugreek leaves at home
- How to take care of fenugreek plant
- Health benefits of Methi saag or fenugreek leaves
Let’s get started.
Unknown facts about fenugreek plant
- Fenugreek is an annual plant in the family Fabaceae. It’s leaves consist of three small obovate to oblong leaflets
- Methi, or fenugreek, is native to Southeastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. According to the experts, it is believed to have been cultivated since 4000 BCE.
- This small plant averages less than one meter in height and is one of the few species that utilizes both the seeds and leaves in medicinal and culinary practices
- The English name Fenugreek is derived from the Middle French fenugrec from Latin faenugraecum, faenum Graecum meaning Greek hay.
- Did you know that fenugreek has a Roman connection? In the 1st century A.D., the Romans used to flavor their wine with fenugreek.
- Almost 80% of India’s total fenugreek production comes from Rajasthan
- Fenugreek seeds are sometimes used to feed domestic rabbits and fish
- The iconic maple syrup smell of fenugreek leaves and seeds comes from a chemical called Sotolon. That’s why fenugreek is also used as a flavor in imitation maple syrup or tea.
- Fenugreek is often used as a cover crop to improve the nitrogen content of the soil that promotes good quality of other plants
How to grow methi saag or fenugreek leaves at home
Fenugreek leaves, or methi saag, are commonly found all over India and consumed by people of almost all regions. It is loaded with vital nutrients, which is why methi saag or fenugreek leaves are highly recommended. You can get these leaves easily at the grocery store. Growing them at home gives you easy access to the leaves, plus they are more credible. Learn how to grow methi saag or fenugreek leaves at home below: -
Methi seeds are commonly and easily available in the spice market because it is a staple whole spice used in every Indian kitchen. Get the fresh seeds and then proceed to check your location.
Pot/container & light
You can grow fenugreek in an aluminum tray, a container, or even in your backyard or front garden directly into the soil. The spot should receive full sunlight with partial shade or filtered sunlight.
Remember one thing that fenugreek aren’t much fans of transplanting, so wherever you plant make sure there is not much movement. If you have plans to transplant, you are suggested to use biodegradable containers that you can wholly put into your gardens oil.
Check soil pH
Check pH of your soil. Ideally, methi grows best in soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0. The soil should be loamy and well-drained.
Best time to grow
Fenugreek would grow well in spring to early autumn and around that time start preparing your soil bed first.
Best soil to grow
Methi requires a well-draining soil and so you can mix river sand to improve your soil.
Mix organic compost or manure to improve the soil fertility.
Soil preparation for indoor & outdoor gardening
If your plan is to directly plant the seeds in your garden soil, dig up 25 cms hole to loosen up the soil. If you are using a pot or container or aluminum tray, simply use potting soil and there is no need to further break the soil.
Soak seeds overnight
You have to soak the seeds overnight before planting as that will facilitate faster germination. Take a few seeds in a cup, pour some water, and leave it overnight. Drain the water before planting these seeds.
Spread seeds over soil without worrying about the spacing as fenugreek doesn’t fuss much about space. Now, cover the seeds with 0.5 cms of potting soil above and water them.
Provide ample amount of water so that the soil is moist from all sides. Also allow excess water to drain away. Keep the soil moist but not soggy at all times for the coming few days
You will notice buds in 3-5 days.
Maturity & harvest
It will take 3-4 weeks for the fenugreek seeds to mature and ready for harvest. In the meantime, take care of the plant by keeping pests and diseases away. Once you see the seedlings reach 6 inches height, you will know the harvesting time
Saag or seeds – which one do you want?
If you want only methi saag or fenugreek leaves, cut the plant at the stem a few centimeters above the soil or pull them up by roots. If you want seeds, wait for the pods on the plant to turn yellow and then you can harvest them.
How to take care of fenugreek plant
It will take hardly a month to grow fresh green fenugreek leaves, and taking care of this plant is very easy. Fenugreek is one of the healthiest leaves to include in your diet, and the best thing is that it is a low-maintenance plant that won’t take up much of your time. Adhere to the suggestions below to take care of your fenugreek plant.
Fenugreek likes regular watering and moist soil but strongly dislikes soggy soil. If your fenugreek plant is indoors, then be extra cautious about watering because in indoor spaces, the light is dim or low, and thus there are chances of excess watering leading to damage to the plant.
A loamy, sandy, well-draining soil is required for the cultivation of fenugreek plants. The soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.
Fenugreek plants require full sunlight for 4-6 hours daily. But it also needs partial shade, so filtered sunlight would be best for this plant.
In your balcony, terrace, or outdoor garden choose that location that can enjoy sunlight and shade both or gets filtered sunlight.
Methi plants don’t require fertilizers for the most part. But to boost its growth, you can feed the plants with a half-strength balanced liquid fertilizer every two weeks. The best option is to provide compost or manure.
Fenugreek plants grow best in warm temperatures. The ideal temperature for methi leaves would be between 10 and 32 degrees Celsius.
Health benefits of Methi saag or fenugreek leaves
Methi, or fenugreek, is commonly used in Indian cuisine, both directly as a vegetable and also as a flavoring agent. These leaves are endowed with various essential minerals and vitamins. The nutritional value of 100 grams of fenugreek leaves, or methi saag, is listed below: -
It is quite evident from the table mentioned above that methi leaves are rich sources of nutrients that will only benefit your body and mind. The major health benefits of fenugreek leaves are explained below: -
Diseases like atherosclerosis are brought on by high cholesterol levels. It happens as a result of fat deposits accumulating in the arteries and restricting blood flow. As a result, it causes heart failure, excessive blood pressure, and stroke. According to studies, eating fenugreek leaves may help lower cholesterol. They accomplish this by limiting the body's production of harmful cholesterol, and thus atherosclerosis is avoided.
Low in calories
Fenugreek is low in calories, which means it can be helpful for people with obesity. Obesity can be one of the prime reasons behind rising health problems like diabetes, high blood sugar, and heart-related problems. Methi is low in calories and high in fiber, and that will keep one full for a longer time, which will stop overeating or control food cravings. Including methi in your diet will keep you fit.
Promotes bone health
The nutrients calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are abundant in fenugreek. They are vital to the health of the bones. They help build up bones and promote bone repair. Fenugreek contains a substance called diosgenin. According to research, it limits the production of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are cells that degrade bone to initiate normal bone remodeling and mediate bone loss in pathologic conditions by increasing their resorptive activity. They are more noticeable when you have osteoporosis, a condition that makes your bones brittle and prone to breaking. So, fenugreek can be helpful in conditions like osteoporosis and fractures.
Fenugreek leaves are very effective in treating dyspepsia and liver dysfunction. Additionally, it aids in reducing digestive disorders and numerous intestinal diseases. Fenugreek leaves are frequently used to treat digestive issues like gastritis, constipation, and an upset stomach, among others.
Reduces heart-related problems
Fenugreek leaves help reduce the chances of unanticipated blood clotting in the heart. The presence of antioxidants in fenugreek leaves makes it a perfect food for a healthy heart. Also, the presence of dietary fiber in methi saag is helpful in regulating cholesterol levels, which in turn reduces the risks of any heart disease.
Good for hair
Who wouldn’t want thick and lustrous hair? Methi or fenugreek seeds can help you bid adieu to your major hair problems, like thinning or dandruff. To promote hair growth, boiling methi seeds with coconut oil is an age old home remedy passed down by our grandmothers. A paste made with soaked fenugreek seeds and curd can remove dandruff. A paste of fenugreek leaves or seeds can help you achieve shinier strands.
Gives spot free skin
With time, there are various problems that your skin might face, like a tan or wrinkles. Methi leaves and seeds can help you remove all those skin problems. It helps you get your original skin complexion back. Fenugreek leaves are believed to provide spot-free skin. A face pack with methi leaves and turmeric powder can remove blackheads and pimples.
Apart from these aforementioned health benefits, fenugreek leaves also help in preventing gastric disorders, fighting diabetes, protecting the liver, improving kidney functions, improving male fertility, and promoting lactation among breastfeeding women. It also has antimicrobial properties that can help heal the wound.
Fenugreek leaves are great for overall health and are easy to plant and harvest. As it is a low-maintenance plant, it is perfect even for beginners. All you need to do is take care of the minimal requirements. You can plant this herb and reap its benefits this season, and this blog will assist you in doing so.
FAQ related to fenugreek
How long does it take fenugreek to grow?
The fenugreek plant is easy to grow, and it is ready for harvest in a month from the day of sowing.
Which is the best season to grow methi or fenugreek?
Fenugreek is a warm-season crop that thrives in the spring through early fall when the soil is warm.
Is it good to consume methi every day?
Methi leaves/fenugreek leaves and fenugreek seeds are rich in vital vitamins and minerals that have significant positive effects on health. They are believed to lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, aid in weight loss, etc. However, it is always advised to seek counsel from your doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian before beginning any such daily practice.
Is there any difference between fenugreek leaves and Kasuri methi?
No, there is no difference between the fenugreek leaves (methi saag) and kasuri methi. Fenugreek leaves, or methi saag, refer to the fresh green leaves of the plant that are directly used to cook various dishes like alu methi, methi paratha, etc. Kasuri methi refers to the dried fenugreek leaves that are stored for later use.
Does the fenugreek plant need full sun?
Ideally, a fenugreek plant requires full sunlight, but partial shade or filtered sunlight also works for this plant.
Is fenugreek an herb or a shrub?
Fenugreek is an annual herb, which is evident from the fact that it has soft and less branched stems, unlike the woody and profusely branched stems of a shrub.