Add life to a Curry…
Fresh Spices or herbs give life to any curry recipe. They enhance taste, give aroma and fragrance to our curry dishes. The health benefit of fresh spices is now a well known fact. Continuous research in the field of herbs and on Indian spices is uncovering the medicinal properties and their positive effect on our health too. Curry leaves, coriander, mint, methi, dill, are a few but, very widely used fresh spices or herbs in Indian cooking to give exquisite taste and aroma.
The good thing about fresh spices is they not only add taste and aroma, but contain rich anti-oxidants and healthy vitamins and minerals.
Fresh spices can be added during cooking or to season or just sprinkle over the dish before serving – to make a tasty difference to the recipe.
Here is the list of Fresh Spices and their goodness and use of these spices in a curry recipe. Have a refreshing experience!
Aromatic and highly regarded as medicinal herb, curry leaves are widely used in South Indian cooking. Their dark green colour and unique aroma adds life to Indian curries. Sambhar, a south Indian delicacy, Thoran, the Kerala beans curry, Kadhi, a Maharashtrian vegetarian dish are examples that come live with generous use of curry leaves. If you want to prepare a simple chicken curry at home, all you need is a bunch of curry leaves and some basic ingredients to add – then the recipe instantly becomes so authentic.
Curry leaves are best used fresh and unfortunately they have short shelf life. Dried curry leaves are also available to buy now in the UK.
Fresh Coriander, called ‘Dhania’ in Hindi, is an important herb in India cooking. Many curry dishes are sprinkled over before the end of cooking or garnished while serving in Indian cuisine. Its strong taste and smell either makes you fall in love with it or might put you off. Fresh coriander is also used in place of coriander powder during cooking to give best aroma to the recipe. Chopped coriander leaves added to Indian vegetable curries give a unique taste.
A strong sibling of coriander in terms of looks, parsley is a widely used herb or spice in Europe and Western world. A favourite addition to casseroles and pasta dishes. Chopped parsley is also a good companion to soups for its warming taste. The bunches of parsley invite us to use in abundance in some curries and spicy dishes. Its health properties are highly praised in medicinal world. Dried parsley and parsley seeds are also used in cooking and flavouring in some recipes. Curly parsley and flat-leaf parsley is commonly available and most widely used.
Bay leaves are a must in preparing celebrative dishes like Biryani, Pulav or some meat dishes in Indian cuisine. Dried bay leaves give great taste and fragrance to dishes. Fresh bay leaves are added to stews and casseroles. Christmas is not festive without generously using bay leaves in roast dinners. Gravies come to life if bay leaves extract added. Unlike other common fresh spices, bay leaves don’t loose their flavour or fragrance when dried, rather with time the spice character is enhanced. In the west, bay leaves from Laurel tree are widely used, where as the Indian type (tejapatta) is the best one for curries, Biryanis and Pulavs because of its sweet and beautiful fragrance (like cinnamon).
Methi or Fenugreek leaves are used as a herb or spice in many Indian dishes, including Lamb curries, potato dishes and some types of soup recipes. The unique sweet taste and distinct strong aroma makes the methi recipes a special status in Indian cooking. Apart from its favoured taste, fenugreek leaves are also considered as a healthy herb helping to control diabetes and healing properties for heart patients. Methi leaves are also cooked with dals and prepared as a recipe of itself. The other famous dishes are Malai Methi (fenugreek leaves cooked in double cream), Aloo Methi (potato fenugreek leaves curry) and Lamb Methi (Lamb curry with fenugreek leaves). Whether it’s for taste or for health benefits, Methi is an important fresh spice in Indian cooking.
The fine leaved and aromatic dill is a great companion to soups, seafood, specially salmon, and mixed to salad dressings to flavour. Its smell and taste reminds that of fennel seeds. Dill instantly freshens our senses when we even look or feel a bunch of it! In India dill is cooked with spinach as a curry and eaten with millet rotis or rice. It is full of vitamin A and many minerals that help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Summer drinks taste fabulous with the addition of chopped dill leaves. Dill is known as Soa or Shepu in Indian languages and prepared as a curry adding some types of dals. Please see the recipes page for Indian curries using Dill.
Refreshing taste, smell and appearance are the characteristics of Mint herb. Summer season is never enjoyable without a drink or a dish that contains the flavours of mint leaves. In Indian cooking mint is widely used to provide the cooling effect in some dishes to balance the spicy nature of curries. Mint is called ‘Pudina’ in Indian languages and used as a main ingredient in Biryanis and meat curries. Some street food and traditional snack items like vadas (made of lentils and fresh herbs) and chunteys generously use mint leaves. Mint is a favoured combination for Lamb dishes in the west, like wise, mint is added in rich lamb curries. The health benefits of mint are well known – to treat the tummy upsets, colds and coughs, etc. Mint teas and after meal sweets are quite popular in the east as well as west. Since mint plants are hardy types and available year around, its’ an added advantage to explore the use of mint in curries.
You can’t miss a garlic frying smell if you live near to a curry house. Who does not like a garlic naan? Its pungent taste and strong smell give an Indian curry a lift. This unique character makes you either a garlic lover or a hater. It can be used as paste, sliced or crushed to rub on veg or meat or even pickled. Although garlic is combined with ginger to make paste and fried almost before any curry preparation, it is also common to use on its own. A tasty dal recipe called ‘Tomato dal’ a south Indian dish, garlic and jeera finley crushed together to prepare this great dal curry. Garlic is a good antibacterial too since it contains allicin in abundance. Curry2Night recipe collection holds numerous curries that use garlic, like Rich Garlic Lamb curry, try them all here.
A root spice that is an important ingredient in Indian cooking, specially in veg and meat curries either to marinate or to give more hotness. Ginger is originated in India and the name itself derived from ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. India is the largest producer of ginger in the world. Garlic-ginger paste is a basic and essential ingredient in start cooking a curry. A chicken curry tastes miles better when marinated in garlic-ginger paste. A bottle of readymade garlic-ginger paste is a must in the refrigerators of any Indian families. Ginger slices added to Indian tea or Chai to give a punchy refreshing taste. Ginger powder and readymade paste are commercially available, but fresh ginger use is always recommended.
Oregano is known as an Italian herb mostly used in Pizza recipes. This is another spice that gets its aroma enhanced when dried. Oregano tastes bitter and gives a strong aroma. This spice is used to marinate meats in Turkish cuisine. It is also widely considered as a healthy herb and got well known medicinal properties. It is originated and grown in western countries and hence not that popular in Indian recipes.
This is herb is used in many British and American cuisine and an important fresh spice in festive cooking, especially in roasting of turkey in Christmas or Thanksgiving day as sage and onion stuffing. Grows mainly in Mediterranean and western Europe, Sage is also considered as essential healthy plant. Sage oil is used in treating digestive problems and memory loss.
Like the spices of Indian Curry Recipes? Try the aromatic and exotic Dry Spices and know how to spice up your Indian cooking skills!