Top 8 herbs and spices for foodies

Whether cooking is your passion or a necessary part of your life, one thing is for sure: you are going to need some basic information about the top herbs and spices that you can use in your foods.

Herbs and spices not only add flavor, zest and aroma to your food, many of them also have health benefits. That is why traditional food cooked in many countries relies so heavily on these little wonders. With the growing interest in ethnic cooking, pantries are invariably getting filled with herbs and spices that give dishes their unique taste and smell. So, what are some of the most popular herbs and spices?

Aniseed: Largely used in making cookies, cakes, salads, these add flavor to chutneys, fruit pies and breads too. Anise seeds are also extremely common in some Indian dishes. Pilafs are an example.

Asafetida: Very common in Indian dishes and responsible for the flavor and smell of many Indian dishes, asafetida is liberally used in pickles and curries. This herb smells pungent when it is raw but imparts a smooth full flavor when cooked. Additionally, this spice also provides a large number of health benefits. It aids digestion and aids immunity. It is antimicrobial too.

Basil: One of the most popularly used herbs across cultures and countries. This green plant is associated with Italian dishes like lasagna and spaghetti. It also plays an important role in Thai cooking. These days, it is popular all around the world from the Mediterranean regions to America, Europe and Asia. Basil is said to contain certain nutrients that could inhabit the growth of cancer cells in the body.

Bay leaves: Found widely in different kinds of cooking ranging from the Mediterranean to the Asian, these are mostly found in soups and stews and dishes that are left to simmer for a long time. These leaves are found in plenty in Indian cooking. They add flavor to curries, pilafs, biriyanis and chutneys. These herbs are also known for the enormous health benefits they bring.

Cardamom: Native to India, it is responsible for that rich flavor and aroma of many savory and sweet dishes. Whether they are used whole or ground into a fine powder, they are potent and can make a huge difference to any dish.

Cayenne Pepper: Perhaps one of the hottest varieties of peppers available. It finds its place in Mexican, Indian and South Eastern recipes. It is mostly added to soups, curries, noodles and hot and sour dishes.

Chili: Red and fiery, chili adds heat to a dish. It is very common in recipes from many parts of Asia and Mexico. It is used for its color as well as fire.

Cinnamon: The inner bark of the cassia tree is sweet and aromatic. It is found in a large variety of dishes like pies, breads, rolls, cakes, fruits pies and so on. Whole cinnamon sticks are also added to pilafs for their aroma.

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