Herbs have found an indispensable place in culinary space and here are my pick of 10 top favourite herbs. Herbs and spices have ruled the cuisines for centuries and the coming food industry recognizes the potential of the popular herbs that make cuisine taste extra-ordinary.
Thai Basil – There are many varieties of basil herb used in culinary dishes. However; my favourite is the purple coloured basil that gives the twist to salads and soups. I love tea prepared with fresh basil leaves. Basil works extremely well with potatoes and eggs, not to mention tuna and marinades. It gives a brilliant taste to Indian chutneys and herb butters. Use it with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese to bring out the richness and flavor of this herb. Try using it on sandwich with mayo, cucumber and tomatoes. It tastes wonderful in Italian pesto. Combine it with peppers and zucchini for savory dishes. Basil is also used in Thai curries for its distinct flavor.
Thyme Herb– The essential ingredient for many cuisines, this herb finds a unique place in Mediterranean cuisine. Used in countless dished, it is also one of the easiest herbs to grow. Use it anywhere from soups, sauces to rubs and stuffings. Pair it with marinades for fish, lamb and veal. A great herb for salad dressing it can be combined with rosemary and oregano. Partner it with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil to extract its wonderful zest.
Bay Leaf – Bay leaf are often used in whole without cutting into pieces. They impart a sweet and spicy aroma to soups, stews and stocks. They are widely used in Indian cuisine for preparation of “Indian Pulao” with basmati rice. They give an overpowering aroma which reminds of balsamic and nutmeg flavours. The cooking technique involves slow penetration of its juices, hence it is kept in the stews to simmer long. Bay is the first choice for flavored wines and does extremely well when grilled with lamb and meat. It pairs well with fennel and thyme. The traditional French cuisine uses bay as an important ingredient for “Bouquet garni” in which a bunch of herbs are tied together and used to flavor on slow heat. This bunch of herbs which contain thyme and parsley along with bay leaf impart a rustic, sweet flavor to the slowly cooking dishes. It does extremely with casseroles.
Rosemary herb – One of the most popular herb in the world, it is also a Mediterranean herb used to bring out the flavours of stews and sauces. Acts as catalyst to many dishes like salad dressings and marinades. Combine it with sage and thyme to make an exotic combination. Used in various culinary dishes like poultry, lamb, venison and vegetables. Tastes great on skewers for meats and vegetables on the grill. Works extremely well with roasted and steamed potatoes.
Mint herb – With mint herb, you are spoiled for choices. There are so many varieties to select from lemon flavored mint to spearmint and others. It is widely popular and used in chocolates and biscuits. Excellent for tea, it is also used in Indian cuisines for “pudina chutney”. You really cannot go wrong with this herb; it is used extensively for refreshing breath in toothpastes as well. Fresh mint sorbet is great for digestion and cooling. It is very easy to grow and is exceedingly invasive plant.