Fenugreek Leaves – Boon or Bane?

The very first time I used fenugreek leaves (methi) in cooking was to make Gobhi-Methi Stuffed Paratha.  Happily bought 2 bundles of methi leaves because they were ridiculously cheap that season (2 bundles for $1) and began cleaning them while imagining what other dishes should I make with methi for the rest of the week.
After about two hours, I furiously called my husband and said “I have been cleaning the ~!@#$% fenugreek leaves past two hours, it’s such a pain in the @$$.  If you ever buy this thing again, I will give pain in your @$$.”

I am dangerous when I’m this pissed off, so hubby behaved his best that evening.  Then I told him how I cleaned the fenugreek leaves.  I removed the band that tied the bunch together, and put it in a big bowl of water.  I expected the dirt to settle at the bottom and the clean stems along with leaves to float on top.  Nice and easy.  But that didn’t happen.

The dirt floated along with the leaves, especially more because of whatever soil that was stuck to the roots also spread out more in the water bath.  It just made it messier to pluck the leaves off each stem and clean them properly.  What could have taken only 15 minutes took 1 hour, and that explains the two bunches in two hours.

But because the dishes with methi tasted so friggin good, we risked buying two bunches later again.  This time, I was careful to not give the fenugreek leaves a water bath first, but I was not careful to use them soon enough the same week.  Suffocated inside the plastic bag inside the fridge for over a week, some started to get pale, and some fainted.

When I began to pluck the leaves off this time, seeing the amount of yellow and pale leaves and stems that I had to discard, with only a small quantity of decent leaves remaining on hand – I realized how wasteful I was.  And that I should have used them up faster.  I swear, even after having my calendar-organizer it’s silly I wasn’t keeping track of my grocery.

So far, I learned two lessons:  i) don’t put fenugreek leaves bunch along with roots in water bath, and ii) don’t put off plucking the leaves until they start to fade and wilt.

And then, I learned the right ways.

First, you pluck out the thin tiny stems along with leaves from the thick stems.  The bitter, thick stems are discarded, no second thoughts.

Second, if you have to use the fenugreek leaves right away for cooking, give the leaves a quick water bath inside one bowl of water, then dip them in another bowl of clean water.  Give a swirl, you know, with your fingers.  Pick the leaves, the way you’d pick small fishes in net for your aquarium?  These can now be used for you to cook.  The leaves, I mean, not the fish.  I’m a vegetarian :D

Third, instead of cooking right away if you want to store fenugreek leaves for longer, don’t rinse them – wrap the plucked out leaves inside a newspaper (good idea) or paper towel (better idea) and inside a Ziploc or plastic bag.  Measure like I did, if you want.  I did not know what the opposite of ‘washed leaves’ would be, so I wrote ‘unwashed’.  It’s not a word I know, but do what works, hehe!  These will store well for over two weeks.

The picture below was taken exactly 40 days later.  You can see the condition of leaves – half of them turned brown while some are still green and usable, even after a month.
Fourth, if you’re not going to cook soon, and if you don’t want to store in paper towel, then here’s another method to store fenugreek leaves:  rinse the fenugreek leaves clean, drain water out, spread them on newspaper and let them dry up naturally on patio or terrace for a day or two.  You can store these dried fenugreek leaves for months.
It’s best to do this when fenugreek leaves are cheap and in season, so you have a good amount to use for the rest of the year.  I still have one batch of dried fenugreek leaves since last year.  I think currently they’re selling for $1.29 per bunch!  But then of course, the quantity of fresh leaves and dried leaves you use in a recipe would differ, so would the taste.  But at least you have something better than nothing?

So now, just like the pineapples and strawberries, I don’t waste fenugreek leaves either.  I am becoming a better kitchen manager(?), yay.

Do you have a tip to share on how you clean or store your greens?  Or is there some vegetable or fruit that cleaning or prepping it you think is a pain in the @$$?  :D

Search Terms:
  • how to clean fenugreek leaves
  • how to store methi leaves
  • how to identify good methi leaves
  • how to clean methi leaves
  • how to remove dirt from fenugreek


  1. very helpful post. i always cut the roots of to get rid of the dirt. then washing the leaves are a dream.

    1. thanks!
      and yes, you're right, this works too :)

  2. I do the same way too, wat a lovely post.

  3. I usually, clean, wash,chop and freeze them to store, it keeps longer..

    1. that's another great idea. thanks for your valuable input, Hema!

    2. Wash the bunch by holding it under running water and then set about saving the leaves, it will dry while you're working out the leaves. To preserve the leaves longer, fry in a little oil and store at least a week for a delicious fresh flavour

  4. I am laughing. I remember threatening my Dh with the same for buying neththili fish (sardines I think). Thanks for the how to on cleaning methi leaves, can you beleieve it I have never cooked methi leaves because I was too embarassed to ask anybody how to clean it?
    Thanks for the laugh and the instructions.

    1. Long time no see, Fathima. Good to hear from you again!
      And thank you, glad you liked the post.
      Guess what, even I felt awkward to ask so I Googled up, but didn't find anything regarding cleaning methi leaves, that's when I thought of writing about it!

  5. wow.. i've never cooked with fresh fenugreek leaves, but i've used dry methi. looks so involved. but whenever i clean my greens, once all the dirt is removed, i just rinse them under running water in a colander. many times though, i avoid buying leaves on a root. now i buy fresh spinach leaves in a bag.. i guess it's easier. :-)

    1. yes Nisha, greens without roots or the ones that are 'triple-washed' and packed cost just a little more but are definitely much more convenient.

  6. I'm cracking up at your conversation with your husband...sounds like what goes on around here on a regular basis!

  7. First time here...this blog post made me smile...I had similar numerous encounters with my dh...lol!

    1. Hello & welcome Ramya. Glad to hear :)

  8. Great tips on storing fenugreek. We rarely get to buy fresh leaves here, so finally i've started growing my own. I haven't ever let them grow too big always use it up as baby leaves, I'm so impatient.

    My mum, sends me driend fenugreek at times, like you said something is better than nothing :)

    1. Thanks Anisha :)
      I sooooo wanna grow some vegetables and herbs too, may be when I have my own backyard!

  9. cute!!!


  10. GOD girl.....you and your hilarious post...love that unwashed opposite.....great discovery....thank you for the tips darling....will remember them....now whenever i see methi leaves...i will remember this....

    1. hehe. glad you liked! thanks for your lovely comment, Lubna :)

  11. love this post. quite entertaining as well as informative:) we hardly get good fenugreek leaves here and then i dont pick them up if i am too busy that week:)

    1. Thanks, Richa! :D
      Seriously, sometimes I wishhh fenugreek leaves were big like spinach and easy to work with!

  12. Thank you... this was sooo helpful... exactly what I was looking for. Not many would do this, hats off to your thoughtfulness.


  13. thnx a ton lady....it took me hours to find the right information about drying the leaves.but your experience and information is v handful.thanku

  14. wow! you're a vegetarian and seeing your swearing and the fact that you are married, i have to believe there are more than seven wonders in the world - only if I stumbled upon your writeup!

    when you cook from scratch ... the pleasure you get, the satisfaction ... cannot beat millions of dollars ... but in US you're made to believe to microwave your food and eat it while you're engaged in some 'useful' activity ...

    even animals do not believe in that ...

    experiment with a dog or cat with fresh meat/fish and an open can of ready made animal food ... :)

    Methi is a wonder drug ... which is super tasty additive and so nice for health ...
    that in the long run ... it will let you know ...
    do not believe in the whole world but methi (either alone or with aloo, baigan or anything ...
    cleaned thoroughly & cooked) is the best food ... (not the dried one!)

    thanks for sharing your experience ... i already knew this somehow ...
    wanted something faster even & ....
    when i searched how to quickly clean and found this and (you) ...

    --- MC from Jersey City

  15. Hi stumbled upon your post on cleaning methi and as always loved reading it. Yes I have read some of your posts on your blog and I found them very interesting.
    Here i couldnt help and stop by to share how i clean my methi leaves.. My MIL taught me a great way to wash methi or for that matter any greens like coriander, parsley or dill. She taught me never cut your greens and wash as that washes of the nutrients as well, but always first wash and then cut/chop. I use part of stems which are tender as well as my GrandMa used to tell me most of the nutrients in methi and coriander are in their stems. So for methi, first wash them in running water and make sure all the dirt has been washed off, then soak it in salt water for 10 to 15mins (you will find whatever dirt is left will settle at the bottom). Take out the methi from water and wash again in running water, you can see the difference in the colour of methi, your methi will look clean, nice and bright green for you to use :)
    The same method you can use for cleaning cauliflower and broccoli. You can cut the florets and leave it in the salt water with a pinch of turmeric and you will find your cauliflower and broccoli clean, plus without any germs :)


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