Abesh is one of the main ingredients in many Ethiopian spice formulations. By itself it’s used to flavor injera, and as part of other spices, wot and other dishes. Like all the spices we use in our foods, most people may think that abesh’s role in dishes is merely as a food-flavoring agent and a beverage. However; abesh actually has many benefits for our health, good looks, and longevity.
These golden-yellow seeds, known as Fenugreek in English , have many health benefits. Abesh grows worldwide in semi-arid regions such as the Mediterranean, western Asia, northern Africa, the Middle East, and in the United States. The plant grows 1-2 feet tall and its pale green leaves come in three parts, like clover. Near the base of the leaves’ long pods shoot out, each containing 10-20 seeds. Abesh is an intriguing plant that has a multi-faceted, if paradoxical, aspect. Here is a more or less complete list
In the literature, the seeds are described as smelling like maple syrup, celery, or burnt sugar. Yet their taste is bitter and unappealing. Roasting can usually soften the edge of the unpleasant flavor.
Abesh can be used as an herb (leaves) or a spice (seeds).
The fresh leaves are mild and pleasant, the dried ones are bitter.
Abesh has all the characteristic of a legume—it’s rich in fiber and protein— but it’s treated like a spice.
Abesh is probably one of the few spices that contains all four pillars of health—vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber.
Like many spices and herbs, abesh has a long history of use as both a culinary and medicinal plant since ancient times. It was one of the spices that ancient Egyptians used to embalm mummies and one of the items found in King Tut’s tomb. Ancient Greeks and Romans had a less lofty yet practical use for the plant: they fed it to their cattle.
In One study related to its Internal benefits, abesh was found to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and sugar levels in the blood. This study was done with persons who had type-2, noninsulin dependent diabetes. In another controlled, double-blind trial, researchers found that Fenugreek lowered elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels in patients who had type-1, insulin-dependent diabetes. Here is list of internal benefits attributed to abesh. Managing cholesterol Abesh seeds contain alkaloids and steroidal saponins (soap-like substances), which are believed to inhibit cholesterol synthesis and absorption from the digestive tract. The fibers in abesh can help purge excess cholesterol, fat, and sugar as the spice’s bulk goes through the GI (gastro-intestinal) tract. It’s also been discovered that an amino acid compound called 4-hydroxy isoleucine found in abesh seeds increases the production of insulin in the body. For this reason, abesh is often included in the diet of diabetics. Abesh does not affect the good (HDL) cholesterol. An associated benefit is that this spice can also help reduce high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Heartburn/acid reflux If you suffer from this condition, soak abesh in warm water overnight then take a teaspoon of it with your meal. The mucilage (water soluble fiber) coats the lining of the stomach, thereby soothing and minimizing the problem. Manage or lose weight Galactomannan is the name of the soluble fiber found in abesh. This substance, when soaked, absorbs water and swells up. The same thing happens in the GI tract when abesh is consumed, making the person feel full and causing him or her to eat less. This effect should allow a person to lose weight over time. Abesh is also a good remedy for sore throat, drink a warm solution of abesh, honey, and lemon and this should help sooth a sore throat.
For your skin and hair Abesh, when used as a pack and applied on the face and elsewhere on the body, is thought to help lessen blackheads and pimples and reduce lines and wrinkles. You can wash the skin and hair with water that contains abesh soaked overnight. Alternatively, you can use an abesh paste both on the hair and face. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and then wash off. Abesh boiled in coconut oil, cooled, and applied to the scalp is supposed to help with thinning hair.
Reference: Ethiopian Foods and Drinks by Getty Ambau