Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Herbs and Spices - Uses and Origins (Part 1)

Herbs are in general dried parts of plants, such as roots, blossoms, leaves, flower buds and barks. They are specially cultivated because of their rich, strong flavours. Herbs and spices are used in food preparation to enhance the natural flavour and tastes of the various dishes. In addition they are important for the digestion as they stimulate appetite and the flow of the gastric juices.

Herbs and spices grow all over the world and they are available in different qualities.

Bay Leaves

These are the leaves of the bay laurel or sweet bay trees or shrubs. They may be fresh or dried and are used for flavouring soups, sauces and stews. They are usually included in a bouquet garni or mirepoix.


This plant grows in all the Mediterranean countries and Russia. The seeds come from the ripe umbel and look very similar to the carra-way seeds. It is used for liquors, drugs for colds and coughs, biscuits, fish dishes and pastry dishes.


It is a plant which grows in any garden. The leaves and the pulps are giving the flavour. It is used for fish and meat dishes, salads and for pickling meat and vegetables.


Cloves are unopened flower buds of a tree (8-12 m height) which is harvested in countries such as Zanzibar, Madagascar, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka among others. The buds are picked when green and dried in the sun till they turn to a rich brown colour. They are used for flavouring vegetables, meat dishes, all kinds of fish, cakes, etc.


It is the bark of the cinnamon shrub. The inner pulp and the outer layer of the bark are removed and the remaining pieces are dried. It has a pale crown colour and is obtained and used in sticks or powdered form. It is mainly used in bakery and pastry work. Doughnuts, Apples & Banana Fritters are passed through a mixture of sugar and ground cinnamon. It is another one of the spices that's blended for mixed spices.


This plant comes from the Far East but also grows in other countries with similar climate. The root is peeled and dried and then it gets grounded into fine powder of yellow colour. It is mainly used for curry blends specially for the colour of the curry.


Curry is the name of the blend made from several spices. This mixed spice includes ginger, carraway-seeds, paprika, cayeen pepper, coriander, curcuma, cardamon, cinnamon and chilli pepper, etc. It is used for all sorts of curry dishes. The composition (blend) of the curry powder depends on the individual.

Credit Source - Kitchen & Operation Book 1 (Systematic School of Hotel & Catering Management)

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  1. Herbs and spices added aroma to cookings!~

  2. Hi Andrea,

    Sorry for the late reply. Oh yes, Herbs n Spices do add the extra oomph to cooking. Especially fresh herbs. :)


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