Herbs Your Kitchen Will Love
Herbs are a delightful way to add some extra spice, sweetness, tang and a host of other flavours to your food, while also complementing your health and fitness. Growing them in the comfort of your home simply augments the beauty of it all. Many herbs have been in use since ancient times for their magical healing properties. These five popular herbs are used by many cultures around the world in food and medicine and would make a wonderful addition to your culinary space.
Holy basil: Holy basil which goes by the name tulsi in India, is a common sight in most Indian households and even finds mention in the Vedas owing to its wonderful healing abilities. Besides driving off common colds, cough and fever and boosting immunity, it is beneficial for the hair and skin and also treats high blood pressure, diabetes, dengue, tuberculosis, hepatitis, respiratory ailments. It is worshipped in India as a form of the Goddess Lakshmi and like her, is believed to be wedded to Lord Vishnu or any of his other forms such as Krishna or Balarama.
Curry: Curry leaves is an ancient herb cultivated mainly in India and Sri Lanka, but is now popular all over the world. It has a subtle flavour and fragrance which imparts a wonderful taste and aroma to food preparations, making it a much-loved herb in many Asian homes especially. Its regular consumption shields one against indigestion, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, skin and hair problems, cholesterol, anemia, liver disease, insect bites, weak bones, poor eyesight and still several other diseases!
Parsley: Parsley, which is believed to have originated in western Asia or southeastern Europe, belongs to the same botanical family, Apiaceae, as coriander and even shares its looks with the former. But unlike coriander, only the leaves of parsley can be used and it has a milder flavour. It is popular as a garnish in American and European cuisine and is an excellent remedy for indigestion, inflammation, infections, bad breath, cholesterol, eye diseases, cancer and other diseases.
Sweet basil: Like holy basil, sweet basil is also native to India, where the herb is cultivated and revered for over 5000 years. Its name is derived from the Greek word for royal, ‘basilikohn’, signifying its importance in the Greek culture too. In India, Greece and Egypt, it was believed that placing the herb beside a corpse would facilitate rapid transmission of the person’s soul to the afterlife. Sweet basil has several health benefits, including the prevention of headaches, fever, cough, cramps, nausea, inflammation, cholesterol and heart disease. It is used especially in Thai, Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine for its sweet and spicy flavour and can even be simply munched on.
Coriander: Also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, coriander is a favourite herb of Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. It came into use some 5000 years ago and was an important medicinal herb and spice in Greek and Roman cultures. It is mentioned even in the Old Testament of the Bible and has several health benefits such as fighting off inflammation, diarrhoea, anemia, mouth ulcers, cholesterol, skin and eye problems, menstrual disorders and diabetes. Its leaves, stems, seeds and even roots are used while cooking.