Herbs and spices are the most used things in an Indian household as without them no curry or dish is complete while cooking. They have a very special place in each household and are used in various ways to cook. There is a wide range of herbs and spices which is used in India by our homemakers. In some houses the spices are also given to the next generation as a tradition to cook tasty meals as their forefathers used to do. Since ancient times people have been using herbs and spices to add flavour and give their food a yummy taste. It has also been used as medicine to cure many diseases and as preservative for storage.
The term herbs and spices are used very much together and are often confused with each other. Both of them are made from different parts of the plants and are processed in different ways. Spices have a stronger flavour in comparison to herbs. Spices are made from the aromatic seeds, barks, flowers, and roots of the plants which dried and then crushed. Herbs are the fresh leaves and sometimes comes from woody plants like bay leaf.
The spices are originated from the western hemisphere. The majority of the spices are grown in the tropical and sub tropical region like Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and India. Herbs are popular throughout the tropical regions but are grown in temperate and arid climates and are found throughout the North America, Mexico and Central America.
Here are some of the commonly used herbs and spices:
- Cilantro: cilantro or commonly known as coriander comes from the parsley family. It is the Spanish name for coriander leaves. It is also known as Chinese parsley and Mexican parsley. It is originated from the Mediterranean and Middle east regions. It is widely used in Latin American, Indian and Chinese dishes. It can be used as herb and a spice both.
- Mint: Mint comes from the Lamiaceae family a genus of 25 species of fragrant herbs. Originating from Eurasia, North America, Southern Africa and Australia it is spread in the temperate regions of the world. It has various different types but the common ones are spearmint and peppermint which are used to add flavours in food like candies and gum. Mint is also used to make the essence of essential oils. Some of its species are also medicinal.
- Oregano: Also coming from the mint family its dried flavourful leaves are used in food for an aromatic experience. It is native to the Mediterranean countries and Western Asia. This has been in the Mediterranean cooking as an essential ingredient for a long time. The commonly used oreganos are the Greek and Italian Oregano.
- Basil: Also known as sweet basil is a part of the Lamiaceae family. It is originated from India and is grown or its aromatic leaves. It has a species known as holy basil commonly known as Tulsi in India. It is a medicinal herb helps in curing many diseases.
And now we move on to spices
- Turmeric: The yellow coloured spice used in almost each and every dish of Indian recipes is a very much common spice in India. It is native Southern India and Indonesia. It was used as perfume as well as a spice in the ancient times. Turmeric also has medicinal properties which cures diseases like arthritis and intestinal problems. In India it is commonly known as Haldi.
- Cumin: Cumin also known as Jeera is native to Mediterranean and is cultivated India, China and Mexico. It is popular in the Latin American, Indian North African and Asian cuisines. Its other species are black cumin also used as seasoning.
- Clove: Cloves are known to be very important spice in the spice trade and believed to be indigenous to the spice islands of Indonesia. It is mostly used in meat and bakery products as it has a strong smell. Indonesia is known to be one of the largest producer of cloves followed by Madagascar, Tanzania and Sri Lanka.
- Cinnamon: This spice is derived from the bark of evergreen tree from the laurel family. It is native to Sri Lanka, the neighbouring Malabar coast of India and Myanmar. It is brown in colour, it has a sweet taste and a fragrant smell.
- Cardamom: It is also spelled as Cardamon, commonly known as known as Elaichi in India. It is native to the Southern India. It has a very aromatic smell and is mainly used in Indian dishes.
In the end, there is a saying quoted ” herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks” by Charlemagne spices.