COOK LIKE A PRO: HERBS AND SPICES

 

By Ligia Lugo

 

Herbs and spices are the lifelines of any preparation; without their support, even the fanciest of the dishes will taste bland and unpalatable. That’s not all, herbs and spices have a far significant role to play in our diet. It not only makes the food taste appetizing, but its vital nutrients benefit our health as well. Let’s go on a virtual tour of the spice land with some of the popular herbs and spices available around the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BASIL

This popular herb has a sweet earthy aroma.

Usage: Use it in the preparation of Pesto, and a wide range of vegetable preparations, meat dishes, curries, and soups.

 

CARDAMOM

This spice has a strong, pungent aroma, which is both addictive and soothing. It is best to store cardamom seeds within its pods and grind them just before use to extract the best flavor and aroma from it. Black cardamom has a smoky, spicy taste, while the green one is much more subtle in taste.

Usage: You will find numerous Indian and Mediterranean preparations, of which cardamom is an integral part.

 

CILANTRO

This aromatic herb belongs to the parsley family, and thus it tastes similar to parsley, with a hint of sweet, tangy, and citrusy flavors.

Usage: These delicate leaves pair well with spiced preparations, including curries, soups, salads, and meat preparations.

Did you know? This herb is used as an alternative to salt by many.

 

PAPRIKA

It is processed from hot chili pepper and is used to add color and heat to the dishes.

Usage: There is no dearth of recipes in which you can use this spice for curries, gravies, or any protein-based food.

Did you know? Paprika contains more vitamin C, by weight than even the lemon juice!

 

CINNAMON

This spice has a sweet and woody flavor that adds a warm and comforting feeling to the food preparations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usage: Add it to desserts and savory dishes, particularly in braised preparations and rice-based dishes and coffee.

Did you know? During the Middle Ages, cinnamon was quite expensive and was a symbol of prestige.

 

CHIVES

This herb is remotely related to the family of scallion, shallot, leek, and garlic. It adds a very fresh flavor and depth to the dishes.

Usage: These hollow slender stalks are usually added to give a mild flavor to salads, baked preparations, and potato and egg-based dishes. You can also add it to butter, sauce, and vinegar.

 

CLOVES

This aromatic spice adds a warm taste to the dishes.

Usage: Add it to enhance the flavor of meats, curries, desserts, pies, and marinades.

 

CUMIN

This spice is grown from the seeds of a flowering plant, and it can be used either whole or in ground form.

Usage: Add the mild-nutty flavor of cumin to curries and savory preparations to make them more flavorful.

Did you know? Cumin belongs to the parsley family.

 

DILL

These green leaves add a lovely taste and depth to the preparations to which it is added.

Usage: You may add dill to grilled preparations, salads, and dipping sauce.

 

GARLIC

This strongly flavored vegetable is usually used as a spice to give an amazing and flavorsome kick to the dishes.

Usage: It is generously used in Italian, Mediterranean, Indian, and Asian dishes.

Did you know? Garlic contains allicin that is particularly beneficial for heart health.

 

GINGER

This root vegetable has a pungent, spicy flavor, and it complements both sweet and savory dishes really well. This popular herb has a sweet earthy aroma.

Usage: Add it to sweet and savory (mainly Asian) preparations in fresh, dried, or powdered form.

Did you know? Ginger contains gingerol that offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

 

MINT

This aromatic and refreshing herb has numerous uses, including in the food processing industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usage: Add it to boost the flavor of sweet and savory preparations, including beverages.

Did you know? Mint helps to settle nausea and upset stomach caused by overeating, which is why it is usually given after meals at restaurants.

 

 

NUTMEG

This spice has a rich nutty flavor and works very well when used in combination with cinnamon. Both nutmeg and mace are grown on the nutmeg tree.

Usage: Add it to sweet and savory food preparations, including beverages.

Did you know? There were several wars fought in between the 15th century until the 19th century to take control of this spice.

 

OREGANO

This very popular and strongly flavored herb helps to add fresh flavors to a variety of dishes. Check some of our recipes with oregano Grilled Sea Bass, Fried Duck Breast.

Usage: Add it to savory sauces, salads, dressings, and pasta preparations.

Did you know? Oregano oil offers antibacterial and antioxidant benefits.

 

PARSLEY. This herb is available in many varieties, such as flat-leaf, curly, and Hamburg.  You can add it in both fresh and dried forms to improve the flavor of many food preparations.

Usage: Parsley goes best with soups, broths, dips, and casseroles.

 

ROSEMARY. You will absolutely love the aroma and flavor of these pine needle-leaves as they are loaded with flavor.

Usage: You can add it to vegetable, dairy, and meat-based preparations.

Did you know? Traditionally, rosemary is considered as a symbol of fertility, fidelity, and marriage.

 

SAFFRON. This herb is the most expensive spice in the world, even more, costly than gold. Its aroma resembles that of honey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usage: These sweet-smelling strings are used to impart a lovely bright yellow-orange tinge to dishes, particularly in the Indian and Middle-Eastern preparations, including beverages from this region.

Did you know? Saffron was also used in the dyeing of fabric, cleansing of the body, and as a food flavoring.

 

SAGE. This perennial woody herb has a flavor similar to that of rosemary.

Usage: It really compliments sausages, vegetables, poultry, and seafood-based preparations.

 

TARRAGON

It tastes similar to licorice and anise.

Usage: You can use it in the fruit, seafood, and poultry preparations.

 

THYME

Thyme is largely used in the Provençale Cuisine (French cuisine) and Mediterranean cuisines and can be used fresh and dry.

Usage: Add it to stews, soups, and roasted preparations.

Did you know? Thyme is also a symbol of bravery and boldness.

 

ALLSPICE

This spice is not a combination of herbs and is instead just a singular item. It appears similar to whole peppercorns but tastes like a mixture of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usage: It is commonly used in both sweet and savory preparations, including curries, spiced cider, and jerky chicken.

 

TURMERIC

Another brightly colored spice with a bit of heat and slightly bitter taste. It belongs to the ginger family and pairs well with rosemary and thyme.

Usage: Use it in most of the Indian dishes, some soups, and rice-based preparations.

Did you know? Turmeric is considered sacred in some cultures, and it also offers vital antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits!

 

PEPPERCORN. This spice has been in use since 4th century BC to add heat and a flavorsome push to the preparations. You can use it as such or in the powdered form.

Usage: There are very few savory preparations to which pepper powder cannot be added. For everything else, spice it up with everyone’s favorite pepper powder!

Did you know? During the Middle Ages, pepper was used as a trade currency.

 

A little something for the BBQ lovers:  Liquid smoke (for the woody flavor) – Allspice – Cumin, and brown sugar (to add a bit of sweetness and to bind/hold the spices together). For authentic BBQ flavor you may need to utilize a propane smoker. Apart from this, adding a bit of rosemary and thyme to this BBQ mix will make it even more tasty!

 

Advice: Apart from salt and pepper, you must stock up spices in a dry pantry to keep them protected from the light and keep your outdoor cooking as appealing as you ever want it to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ligia Lugo loves experiencing new cultures through foods and travels. Her hobby is to experiment with different cuisines. Ligia runs a blog The Daring Kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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