Cooking styles are changing and we are learning every day about different styles of cooking from all over the world. All kinds of ingredients are also easily available these days. Herbs are a large part of every cuisine and are essential to give any dish its characteristic flavour. Herbs when used fresh give bright fresh notes to the dish whereas when used in the dried form, give a more rounded robust flavour. We are giving you a look at how to use some common herbs in cooking and the best ingredients with which to pair them.
Basil is an Italian staple and you would do well to have a bag of leaves in your fridge while making an Italian feast. There are many varieties of Basil although sweet basil is the most common. It is very similar to the Indian Tulsi but has a lighter sweet flavour with a peppery bite.
Basil pairs very well with tomatoes, pork and mild cheeses. It the main ingredient of the classic Italian Pesto sauce. A garnish of this herb on any tomato-based curry will add to the dish in a surprising way.
Thyme has a piney and peppery taste with slightly lemony and minty notes. It has an herbaceous and floral aroma. It loses its aroma quickly with heat. It is difficult to grow thyme in tropical climates, so the dried version is more commonly available.
Thyme pairs well with all root vegetables and gives a wonderful flavour when used while roasting these veggies. It is also great for making butter sauces to use over fish or chicken. Add a dash of thyme the next time you make mashed potatoes.
This herb has a woodsy lemon pine flavour, with a bitter aftertaste. It is a very hardy herb and can last in the refrigerator for months! The dried version of the herb becomes very hard and has to be crushed before use as biting into a whole dried leaf is unpleasant.
Add whole sprigs of whole rosemary while baking or grilling any kind of meat. Grilling and charring especially imparts a bold mouth-watering flavour to the meat. It is also great to use in desserts. Infusing sugar syrups, fruit compotes and ice cream bases with rosemary is a great idea.
Sage has a very fragrant aroma and an astringent but warm flavour. It is used extensively in Mediterranean dishes and is well known as a stuffing for sausages.
Use this herb sparingly as too much of it gives a very strong soapy bitter taste. It tastes best when fried to a crisp in butter and served a top your dish. Potatoes loves sage and so do acidic fruits like pineapple.
This is the most versatile and common herb. It has a bright fresh flavour similar to that to coriander or cilantro but is milder and sweeter. Flat leaf parsley is much better than the curly one that is used just as a pretty garnish.
Flat leaf parsley can be used in almost everything. Soups, stews, curries and Salads.
Most popularly known as a flavouring for pickles and chips, dill has a bright almost anise-fennel like flavour. You can grow fresh dill in your garden easily. Dill does not do well under heat. Use it at the end of cooking always.
Finely dice them in salad dressings or sprinkle over seafood dishes. Salmon loves dill and it is a classic combination.
Go herb shopping today; get something fresh and you will be singing Scarborough Fair all day long.