Herbs & Spices – all you need to know

Ever have that feeling when you open the spice cupboard like…I have no idea what to do with these things! You buy a whole bottle for one dish and then never use it again…well here’s a comprehensive guide to using all the herbs and spices in your home. There really are so many herbs and spices out there, not even taking into account the mixes and combinations.

Not only are herbs and spices great for flavouring foods, but are traditionally used medicinally. I love spices, their versatility, their flavours, their colours, their fragrance…

This list includes how to use herbs and spices in cooking as well as the traditional medicinal uses. Now you have no excuse but to start cleaning out the spice rack and to start cooking some interesting meals.

  • Dill – Flavour potatoes and seafood. Add to soups and stews.

Medicinal: relief of digestive problems. Milk production with nursing.

  • Celery – Add to sauces and soups.

Medicinal: Treat asthma, liver disease, bronchitis, fever and flatulence.

  • Mustard – heat the seeds in oil to release aroma and bring out nutty flavour. Used in Indian food.

Medicinal: Induces vomiting. Diuretic and stimulant.

  • Chillies – Add taste to bland foods. Fry chilli flakes in oil before adding to cooking food/ finely chopped over fresh salad.

Medicinal: Vitamin C; digestion of starchy foods; tonic.

  • Caraway – flavour breads, sausages, sauerkraut, cabbage, soups and cheeses.

Medicinal: Relieve flatulence, indigestion, colic and bronchitis.

  • Cinnamon – sweet and savoury dishes. Good with lamb, rice, fruit, chocolate, cakes, breads, drinks.

Medicinal: Helps to balance blood sugar levels.

  • Coriander – Sweet and savoury dishes. Indian curries, mince meat, sausages, stews, baking,

vegetable curries. Fry before use. Lemony flavour.

Medicinal: Helps treat migraines and indigestion.

  • Saffron – Add to sauces, soups, fish and rice dishes.

Medicinal: Help to treat urinary and digestive problems. Rich in vitamin B2 and Riboflavin.

  • Cumin – Dry fry before use. Couscous, sausages, minced meat and vegetables. Combine with cinnamon and use in stews. Use in chilli con carne.

Medicinal: Remedy for diarrhoea, flatulence and indigestion.


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  • Turmeric – Essential in Indian curry and Asian dishes. Used in Indian vegetarian cooking, especially bean and lentil dishes.

Medicinal: Tonic and remedy for liver problems.

  • Lemongrass – Use in Asian cooking in soups or in pastes for stews. Combines well with garlic, shallots and chillies. Mix with coriander to flavour fish, shellfish, chicken and pork.

Medicinal: Relieves flatulence and used as a sedative.

  • Cardamon – Enhances sweet and savoury tastes. Mainly in Indian curries and sweet meats.

Medicinal: Relieves flatulence and stomach disorders. Cleanse breath of garlic.

  • Fennel – Roast pork. Indian vegetarian cooking and used to season fish.

Medicinal: Assists ease shortness of breath/wheezing. Toothache.

  • Star Anise – Poultry and pork dishes. Ideal for roast chicken, braised fish, scallops clear soups, leeks and pumpkin.

Medicinal: Relieves colic and rheumatism.

  • Nutmeg – Add to mutton and lamb, mash potato, white cabbage, cauliflower, macaroni, vegetable purée, meat stews, veal, pasta sauces, egg and cheese dishes.

Medicinal: Relieves bronchial disorders, rheumatism and flatulence.

  • Sumac – Fish, salads, kebabs, lentils, stuffing for chicken, yogurt.

Medicinal: Stomach disorders.

  • Ginger – Use with garlic and in curries. Asian-style fish dishes. You can even make homemade ginger tea.

Medicinal: Stomach disorders, digestive aid, improve circulation, nausea.

Ginger

  • Cayenne Pepper – Adds a sweet heat to soups, braises and spice mixes.

Oregano – Lemony flavour. Add to Mediterranean vegetables and Mexican food.

  • Paprika – Adds sweetness and spice. Used in stews.

Rosemary – Strong flavour so use sparingly. Good with eggs, beans, potatoes and grilled meats like lamb.

  • Sage – Pine-like flavour used in Italian-style cooking.
  • Thyme – All-purpose seasoning – delicious on just about anything.

 

Have a dish in mind and need a quick reference? No worries, I have thought of it all. Below is a quick and handy references for all your favourite meals.

Fish

Dried herbs and spices: Coriander, chili flakes, jerk seasoning (spice blend), dukkah.

Fresh herbs: Chervil, tarragon, chives, dill, marjoram, cilantro.fish300px close

Pork

Dried herbs and spices: Sage, rosemary, thyme, Chinese five-spice (spice blend).

Fresh herbs: Sage, rosemary, thyme.

Beef

Dried herbs and spices: Rosemary, thyme, chinese five-spice (spice blend), chillies

Fresh herbs and spices: Rosemary, thyme, chillies

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Lamb

Dried herbs and spices: Cinnamon, harissa (spice blend), dukkah (spice blend).

Fresh herbs: Rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint.

Steamed or Roasted Vegetables

Dried herbs and spices: Thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, chili flakes, Thai 7 spice

Fresh herbs: Dill, thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram.

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Potatoes

Dried herbs and spices: Rosemary, thyme, garam masala (spice blend), herbes de

Provence (spice blend).

Fresh herbs: Rosemary, thyme, parsley.

Now get yourself into that kitchen and start the flavours rolling!

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