Herbs: A Healthy Way To Enhance The Flavours Of Your Cooking
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Herbs have been an intrinsic part of cooking for years. From preservatives to medicine, it has always been proven beneficial for mankind. Herbs are a great way to enhance the aroma, colour and flavour any food or drink without adding fat, salt or sugar. Fresh herbs are rich in antioxidants that can help in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and are also anti-inflammatory. They are widely used for flavouring soups, breads, sauces, desserts and drinks. 

What Are Culinary Herbs

Herbs are the leaf part of a plant (do not have woody stem) that is used in cooking, medicine and preservation either in fresh or dried form. Other parts apart from the leaf such as barks, seeds, roots and flowers are referred to as spices. Even a little amount of culinary herbs can influence the aroma and flavour of both sweet and savoury dishes including salad. 

Dried herbs are stronger as compared to fresh once but they lose their flavour quickly and they have a longer lifespan. They can maintain their flavour for six months if stored properly in airtight containers. Dried herbs are mostly added in the beginning or in the middle of the cooking process while fresh herbs are commonly added at the end or used in garnishing. 

Fresh herbs can be stored either in airtight plastic bags (in refrigerator) or in jars filled with water with leafy part on the top and dried herbs can be stored in airtight containers in a dark place at room temperature.  

Here are five herbs that are commonly used in Indian kitchen: 

1. Basil: 

These glossy, deep green leaves have sweet and savoury flavour and are used in both fresh and dried form. They are common in Asian kitchen and can be as toppings pizza and pasta, puree in soups, added into salads and garnishing. The essential oil present in the herb is helpful in lowering blood pressure and also improves blood flow.  

2. Mint:

This perennial herb has a subtle sweet flavour and cooling sensation due to which it is used for a variety of culinary purposes like in drinks, confectionery, meat, chicken, yogurt, desserts, sauces and vegetable dishes. Mint leaves are rich in several nutrients along with being an amazing appetizer. And mint chutney is also a very popular condiment that goes well with any Indian snack. 

3. Cilantro 

Also known as coriander, cilantro is the most common herb found in Indian kitchen. With a mesmerising aroma the bright green leaves are used as fresh and added at the end of cooking. The seeds of the coriander plant are used as spice and fresh leaves are added in stir fries, curries, soups, salads as well as in seafood. The leaves are also blend along with salt and spices to make delicious chutney. 

4. Bay Leaves 

Bay leaves are another very commonly used herb found not only in Indian kitchen but in whole Asia. The aromatic herb is slightly bitter in taste and is typically used in dried whole form. They are added soups, sauces and a lot of savoury dishes. Bay leaves tea is a natural remedy for sinus and a good source of vitamin A and C. 

5. Oregano

The fragrant herb is a part of mint family which has a sweet and slightly peppery flavour. It is commonly used in its dried form in tomato sauce, cheese dishes, egg dishes, pizza, meat, stuffing, bread, pasta and as an important ingredient for seasoning. The herb is a staple in Turkish, Italian, Greek, and Mexican cuisine and recently has gained popularity in India. Oregano is also rich in antioxidants and acts as a natural antibiotic. 

There is no limit to experimenting with herbs as they never harm the taste rather enhance the flavour and health benefits are also another reason to increase the use of herbs in the kitchen. So, make sure you include more herbs in your cooking and enhance the taste of your dishes.