Not only herbs and spices add the wonderful flavours to the food but it also has many medicinal qualities.
Herbs: Different countries grow and use different herbs based on their geographical location and weather. Herbs like cilantro (coriander), basil, chives, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme, etc. are full of flavours and add extra dimension to the food. You can grow herbs at home and use it when needed.
How to grow herbs: the easiest way I found to grow herb is either buy a small plant or when you buy say for eg. buy mint, once you remove most of the leave, put the stem in water and you will notice roots grow in few days. You can then plant it in a pot and it will grow. I have done that with oregano, mint, basil, ajwain leaves, etc.
How to care for herbs: Always clean herbs when you bring from store. I personally separate roots (if any), remove any rotten leaves or stems. Only wash herbs when you are using it. Cilantro, dill, parsley you can be stored in airtight container, just put paper towel bottom and top of the herbs and keep in refrigerator. It stores well just over a week. Basil can be stored in glass of water (stems in the water). Leave it in refrigerator, you can cover it with plastic bag and it will stay fresh for few days.
How to use herbs: Most of the herbs are added at the end to keep the flavour and colour. I am Indian, so I use lot of cilantro (coriander leaves) in my food. I make chutneys, raita (dip), stuff paratha, stuff vegetable curries using coriander, mint, dill leaves, etc. I absolutely love the flavours!!
Spices: Similar like herbs, spices are heart of any food. All the spices has some kind of medicinal quality and that is the main reason they are part of all cuisines. Spices like chilies, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, etc. adds so much flavour and colour to the food. Herbs are seasonal where as spices you can store for long time. You can use it the whole spices or in powder form.
How to care for spices: Spices are easy to take care. Always store in clean dry airtight container. If there is any moisture in the container then it will go bad. Chili, turmeric, coriander, etc. are easy to use as powder. Other spices, like cardamom, star anise, cumin, cloves are mostly used whole in curries and for flavouring. They can easily turn into powder using coffee grinder or mortar and pastel. Always grind cumin, black pepper powder fresh, as it looses the flavour if store for long time.
How to use spices: If you are using whole spices, like cumin, oregano, then rub them in between your palm and then add to the food. Chili, turmeric, coriander, garam masala (blend of spices), can be added while cooking to enhance the flavours. You can use spices to add the colour like turmeric is a good substitute for yellow colour and it can fight inflammation, helpful for arthritis, and many more. I also use turmeric to prepare Turmeric Carom Latte to Cure Cold and Cough also called gold milk.
Hope this post will help you to incorporate herbs and spices in your daily meal. Be bold and try different spices and herbs. That’s how I found out about sumac, zaatar (middle eastern spices). You can buy spices from bulk store in very little quantity to try it. Many of the spices and herbs are used in Ayurveda, home remedies.
Let me know if you have any questions.
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