Herbs for Cooking

Herbs, either fresh or dried, are wonderful culinary ingredients that make a meal special and delightful. Some of the common culinary herbs are basil, fennel, mint, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Humans have been using the herbs since ancient time. Be it cooking or medicinal purpose, herbs play an essential role in our day-to-day life. Speaking about the herbs used for cooking, there are several culinary herbs that are used either in fresh form or dried form. They are meant to flavor the meals, thus lowering the use of salt, sugar and at the same time, making the dishes tasteful. In addition to flavoring the dishes, many herbs contain high amounts of active ingredients and antioxidants, which are responsible for protecting the body against certain diseases.

Herbs for Cooking

Most of the traditional cuisines are cooked with special culinary herbs. In fact, herbs can make an ordinary dish into a special one. The best way to start using herbs in cooking is to understand the flavors and benefits of culinary herbs. Doing so will help to create your own special delicious recipe enriched with flavorful herbs. Following are some of the herbs commonly used for the cooking purposes.

Basil, having spicy aniseed aroma, is usually used in the tomato recipes. Fresh and dried basil leaves are used for seasoning various dishes. There are different types of basil, of which the most flavorful are the sweet and purple basil. Basil leaves paired with garlic make a delightful dish.

Both fennel leaves and seeds are used in cooking. The flavor resembles that of aniseed, except that it is mild and sweet. Fennel seed is used in the preparation of fish curry, meat recipes and sausages, whereas chopped leaves are added in salads and other vegetable dishes.

Mint is a common culinary herb found in many varieties, namely, peppermint, apple mint, lemon mint and chocolate mint. Mint tea is used for the therapeutic purposes. In cooking, mint leaves are used for seasoning lamb, fish and poultry recipes. It is also used in salad dressings and preparation of sauces.

Oregano or wild marjoram is available in fresh leaves. Its warm, aromatic flavor and robust taste makes it a wonderful culinary herb. Oregano is used for flavoring the vegetable, fish and meat recipes since ancient times. Chopped leaves of oregano are used for seasoning Greek, Mexican and Italian cuisines.

The flavor of parsley is mild and non obtrusive. Fresh leaves of parsley are used for garnishing the salads, vegetable and legume recipes. You can use parsley in any type of recipe. It blends well with other culinary herbs like basil, mint and oregano. Many people prefer adding dried parsley leaves in the preparation of sauces.

Rosemary is best paired with garlic and thyme to flavor roasted lamb and other stewed meats. It has tea like aroma and pine like flavor. Fresh and dried rosemary leaves are used in cooking vegetables, fish and poultry.

Sage has a distinctive musty and smoky aroma. Its leaves are used either in fresh or dried form. Sage is used for adding flavor to poultry, lamb and sausages. Fresh chopped sage leaves are added in salads and pickles. Ground sage is used to marinate fish and meat before cooking.

Thyme is used especially in French cuisines. Its flavor resembles that of mint. It is used in soups, sauces and also in fish, poultry and meat recipes. Fresh thyme leaves are available in summer months, whereas dried leaves are found throughout the year.

You can grow all these culinary herbs in garden or in the containers (in case of limited land). They are easy to grow and develop faster than any other plants. In majority of the herbs, the leaf portion is the most flavorful. For such culinary herbs, you can delay flowering by regular harvesting of the leaves. Once they start flowering, you can cut the stalk to promote a bushy growth. Well! Explore your culinary talent by using these flavorful herbs to make each meal extraordinary.
By Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Bouquets and Brickbats