Fenugreek is one of the earliest spices known to man. Ancient Egyptians used it as a food, medicine and an embalming agent. The ripe, dried fruit of a quick-growing annual leguminous herb, fenugreek has a strong, pleasant and quite peculiar odour reminiscent of maple. Traditionally, fenugreek grows best in well-drained loams with a low rainfall. In India, this spice is often cultivated as a cover crop in citrus-fruit groves to take advantage of their leguminous nature.
The major producers of Indian fenugreek are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Commercially known as ‘Methi’, Indian fenugreek comes in several well-known varieties such as ‘Desi’ and ‘Champa’. The spice is exported in its whole and powdered forms as well as in the form of extracted oil which is extensively used in perfumery. The major importers of Indian fenugreek are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Malaysia, USA, The UK, Singapore and Sri Lanka.