Three delicate herbs… three delicious dishes

Posted on July 14, 2014 by Viji

Aug 14th, the day before India’s Independence day, I was standing in our kitchen wondering how to create an image of the national flag of India, just from vegetables and herbs. I had in front of me, heirloom tomatoes in all sorts of beautiful colors, garlic, onion and a few curry leaves, the herb I have seen the most as a child, growing up in the southern most state of India, the beautiful Kerala. The picture below is the best that I could come up with. Happy Independence Day, India!

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But one accidental look at the kitchen window, before I could come up with that flag, took me to a whole different world. There they are… three commonly used herbs in our kitchen now – curry leaves, cilantro and basil. It felt so amazing to suddenly realize, that I have been cooking three different dishes, even better three different cuisines, using the very same vegetables in front of me, but just by choosing one herb over the others.

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Curry leaves

The curry leaves make the simple yet a speciality dish of Kerala, Tomato Fry, which completes the heavenly combination, “Parotta with Tomato Fry”.

Quick Recipe: Heat one spoon of oil in a pan. (Optional seasoning – splutter mustard seeds; add urad dal, channa dal, and green chillies). Add chopped garlic, curry leaves, finely sliced onion. Sauté well until the onion is translucent. Add chopped tomatoes, salt to taste, mix well and cook till done. Serve hot with parotta, a layered flat bread of Kerala.

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Basil

The basil gives us the wonderful Tomato Sauce, served over Spaghetti, an emblem of Italian cuisine.

Quick Recipe: Saute finely chopped garlic, onion in olive oil. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes lose their raw flavor. Season with salt, pepper and basil leaves. Serve with spaghetti cooked al dente. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

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Cilantro

Who can forget the mouth-watering mexican dip, the Pico De Gallo, the salsa made of all the fresh ingredients? The cilantro gives us this summer time favorite!

Quick Recipe : Combine the finely chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro. Season with salt and freshly squeezed lime. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Isn’t it fascinating to see what these unassuming, delicate green leaves are actually capable of? Here they are together- the three delicate herbs… and the three delicious dishes!

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No one will ever deny how the wonderful smell of a newborn baby instantly takes us to a magical world. It is purely a sensory experience! I feel very much the same when I smell a bunch of my favorite herbs. Such a relaxed feeling. No other vegetables, or fruits have given me the same feeling ever.

And when it comes to cooking, these delicate herbs often mean the difference between a good dish and a great one. Nothing transforms the taste of food like herbs, and they could change the cuisine itself.

Explore and enjoy the wonderful world of herbs! Hope you would share your experiences too…

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