Herbs and Spices


Herbs and spices are integral parts of Indian cooking and hold medicinal properties apart from being taste enhancers. Here are some ways to use them in cooking.

For centuries, Herbs and spices have been acknowledged for their medicinal properties and as culinary enhancers. There are hundreds of herbs which play an important role in our cuisine and as medicines and it is important to know when and how to use them.

Some work best with certain kind of foods and some go well with other specific herbs. Some are very effective cure for various ailments and are beneficial as many of our daily remedies. In AYURVEDA, we have used many of the Indian herbs like Ashvagandha, Boswellia or guggal, Alfalfa, Aloevera and many others to maximum benefits in combination with essential oils, in our cuisine, and as medicines.

Here we will try to see the various combinations of herbs and foods that match perfectly and discuss two of my favorite herbs and their usefulness for our body.

Curry Leaves

Indian cuisine uses the fragrant herbs in abundance. Curry leaf is an essential ingredient of most dishes cooked in South and in other parts of India. Mainly used for flavorings fresh green curry leaf when rubbed between fingers give out a unique aroma. They are slightly bitter in taste. Usually the fresh curry leaves are best for cooking
but dried up leaves can also be used.

The leaves contain a volatile essential oil in a crystalline principle glycoside having anticancer properties. They contain minerals, vitamin A&B and are a rich source of Carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids. Raw leaves cure dysentery and decoction of leaves with bitters cures fever.

The leaves contain a volatile essential oil in a crystalline principle glycoside having anticancer properties. They contain minerals, vitamin A&B and are a rich source of Carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids. Raw leaves cure dysentery and decoction of leaves with bitters cures fever.

It is an excellent hair tonic and prevents premature graying of hair especially when boiled with coconut oil for the greatest benefit in hair treatment. Eating tender curry leaves helps prevent diabetes. The leaves also have weight reducing properties.

Basil

Basil is a wonderful addition to many of our favorite Italian dishes, but it is also an excellent choice as an insect repellent, and for the treatment of bad breath, warts, headaches, and high blood pressure.

Rubbing basil leaves directly on the skin wards off mosquitoes. In India, this is quite common practice. If you do not have the luxury of planting it outside, this plant grows quite nicely in a sunny window planter.

Six compounds found in basil are useful as expectorant and make basil beneficial in ridding the body of mucus and congestion. Basil and black pepper each contain six compounds, which lower the blood pressure.

Basil carries many antiviral compounds.

Herb and Food combinations

Some herbs go very well with specific foods

1. Basil goes best with tomato sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice, potato dishes, prawns, meat, chicken and poultry, pasta, rice, egg dishes.

2. Bay leaves make a difference to soups, stews, casseroles, meat and poultry marinades stocks.

3. Chili work best with meat, chicken and poultry, prawns, shellfish, tomato dishes, curries.

4. Chives improve the salads, chicken, soups, cheese dishes, egg dishes, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes.

5. Coriander enhances all Asian dishes, stir-fries, curries, soups, salads, seafood.

6. Dill is for salads, sauces, and fish, and salad, sour cream, cheese and potato dishes.

7. Fennel can go with stuffing, sauces, seafood.

8. Garlic adds the zest to soups, sauces, pasta, meat, chicken, shellfish, pesto, salad dressings, and bread.

9. Ginger is best with cakes, biscuits, all Asian dishes.

10. Lemongrass can be added to some of the Asian dishes, stir-fries, curries, seafood, soups, and tea.

11. Mint works wonder with drinks, confectionary, meat, chicken, yoghurt, desserts, sauces, vegetable dishes.

12. Oregano is best with cheese dishes, egg dishes, tomato sauce, pizza, meat, stuffing, bread, pasta.

13. Parsley adds the power to egg dishes, pasta, rice dishes, salads, butter, sauces, seafood, vegetable dishes.

14. Sage is for stuffing, tomato dishes, and cheese dishes.

15. Thyme is wonder herb for breads, chicken and poultry, soups, stock, stews, butter, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar.


Herb combinations

Some herbs compliment each other beautifully here is the list of some of my favorites

1. Basil with chives, chili, garlic, oregano

2. Bay leaves with parsley, thyme, garlic, oregano

3. Chili with coriander, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, oregano

4. Chives with basil, garlic

5. Dill with chives, garlic, parsley

6. Garlic with basil, rosemary, sage, fennel, chili, coriander

7. Thyme with bay leaves, parsley, garlic, rosemary

8. Oregano with basil, parsley, chives, thyme, bay, and chili

Food, herb combo information is courtesy Healthy Cooking with Fresh Herbs