The origin of herbs was way before the written records came into existence. In the Egyptian Civilization, it was used for the preservation of mummies and for treatment of diseases. The ancient scriptures of Vedas also describe various medicinal properties and uses of herbs. In China and Mesopotamia also, archaeological evidence of herbs were found, which dates back to 2000 B.C. The history of herbalism is ancient and vast. Even if we still debate on its initial origin, there is no denial that it’s benefits are being reaped by the entire globe.
So let’s learn about these 10 must-to-have herbs in your kitchen garden, their benefits and culinary uses—
Basil is considered to be the ‘king of herbs’ and is one of the most commonly used seasoning today, especially in south-east Asian countries of Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia. There are different kinds of basil such as holy basil, sweet basil, Thai basil, African blue basil and Rubin basil. The spicy clove-scented herb thrives better in warm environment but make sure you don’t plant your herb at a place where it gets direct heat from scorching sun.
Uses: The spiciness and warmth of Basil make it suitable to be used in soups, salads, non-vegetarian dishes and is a basis ingredient in making of pesto.
Benefits: Rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; other than this, it is an anti-aging agent, immune-booster and helps in fighting back cancer.
The popular herb whose name flashes on the packet of chips to your favourite toothbrush, mint or mentha can be easily grown in your kitchen garden. In Greek mythology, mint is also known as ‘the herb of hospitality’. But, a warning about this refreshing herb that it will fill in as much space as you give to it. It can bear varied range of weather conditions but the most suitable one is cool moist environment in partial shade. Pulegone and menthol are the substances which give mint the characteristic flavour and aroma.
Uses: It is used in beverages, jellies, desserts and cuisines especially lamb dishes. Mint is widely used as flavouring agent and in making of mint essential oil.
Benefits: Mint have benefits such as promotes digestion, excellent skin cleanser, helpful in headache and cold and used in aromatherapy.
If you are thinking, “Why you should grow cilantro in your pot?” Then here is the reason—the most easily available detoxifying agent is cilantro. Rich in antioxidants and photo-nutrients, the herb and it’s benefits have been known for more than 3000 years. Along with it’s leaf and stem, the seed (coriander seed) is considered as a healing spice.
Uses: Cilantro is used in multiple cuisines (a majority in Asian and Mexican dishes) ranging from Indian dhaniya chatni to Mexican tacos.
Benefits: Prevents UTI and kidney stones, eliminate heavy metals like mercury, lead, aluminium from body, helpful in eye disorder.
4. Lemon Balm
Melissa Officinalis (the scientific name of the herb) is a native to South Europe, Asia and North America. Since Middle Ages, lemon balm is considered as a soothing herb and widely used for relaxation therapy and promotion of sleep. The German Standard License approves lemon balm as a cure for gastrointestinal and sleep disorders. The mild fragrance of lemon balm in your garden would make your lazy Sunday mornings turn into a refreshing one.
Uses: Just mix few leaves of lemon balm in your smoothie and it will impart a light lemony flavour. Add it in salad or in any Chicken recipe, the raw tangy taste will elevate the natural flavours.
Benefits: Regular consumption of lemon balm reduces wrinkles and detoxifies the body. For centuries, the oil obtained from the herb is being used in aromatherapy.
Every portion of the fennel herb — seed, flower, foliage and bulb are widely used in traditional cuisines as salad, garnish, soups and sauces. The next time when you try to reinvent your grandmother’s recipe, you will not have to run to the market to bring all the ingredients. You can grow fennel herbs which will always be fresh and handy.
Uses: If you want to add a crunch and sweetness to a dish, fennel can be a good option. Here are few tips— Sautéd onion, tomato and fennel, together work as a wonderful side dish. Serve Salmon with fennel and lemon, it will bring the best out of your dish.
Benefits: When we talk about the benefits of fennel, the list is long. It is commonly used for the treatment of high blood pressure, heartburn and asthma. It strengthens digestive system and is a quick remedy for gas, acidity and cramps.
Thyme is associated with virtues like courage, bravery and strength in lives of Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. In 1340s, when Black Plague struck various countries in the Middle East, people resorted to thyme for protection and relief. The herb can be grown in hot places and can tolerate drought conditions. Thyme retains its flavour and character on drying, therefore, it can be stored easily for long duration.
Uses: Thymol, a compound found in thyme, is used in producing mouthwashes and hand sanitizers. Thyme is mostly used in stews and marinades for grilled meat.
Benefits: Thyme has antiseptic properties, if taken along with luke warm water, it protects from cold, cough and throat infections.
A native to the Mediterranean region and south-western Eurasia, Oregano is a perennial herb planted in early spring. The factors like season, climate and soil composition affect the flavour and aromatic oil present in the herb. A study from Georgetown University inferred that Oregano oil is an effective treatment against dangerous and sometimes drug-resistant bacteria.
Uses: Mostly used in Italian, Greek and Spanish cuisine. Oregano is a versatile herb and gets easily along with thyme, onion, tomato and garlic. It compliments dishes such as pizza, salad, spaghetti and a variety of vegetables and meats.
Benefits: Infuse Oregano with tea everyday to get rid of problems like indigestion, bloating, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, and headaches. The Oregano oil also relieves from menstrual cramps.
The word parsley is derived from Greek work ‘petroselinon’ which means rock celery. There are two widely used parsley —curly parsley (moss-curled ) and Italian flat leaf parsley. The best location to grow parsley is where soil is moist and proper sunlight is received. More than an ornamental herb, parsley has a vibrant taste and is a storehouse of nutrients.
Uses: It is frequently used in mashed potatoes, fish fry, steaks, fried chicken and risotto. In England, fish is generally served with parsley sauce.
Benefits: The ascorbic acid in parsley acts as a good cleanser. Parsley also keeps the heat healthy by reducing the amount of homocysteine in the body. It has high amounts of the flavonoid called apigenin which lowers the risk of cancer.