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Herbs complete your meal

Ana Madigibuli
Friday, October 13, 2017

A meal is incomplete without the aroma of herbs and every herb has its own flavour and fragrance, giving certain dish a savoury taste.

One of the common herbs found in our markets today are coriander (dania), mint and garlic, but finding rosemary, parsley, sage and basil and other variety of herbs would mean another trip to the supermarket.

Certain supermarkets have packaged or bottled herbs that are ideal for any quick dish recipe, but can be costly because it's imported.

Today we look at the variety of common herbs listed by and why it's important to add it in your recipe.


Basil is perhaps the most popular and widely used culinary herb. It is a tender annual, aromatic plant with a spicy odour and flavour. It grows 12-18 inches tall and foliage colour can range from green to purple. Foliage size can vary from large lettuce-like leaves to very small leaves, half inch in size. Basil picked for use in the kitchen is best held in a glass of water at room temperature. Putting basil in the refrigerator results in discoloured and unattractive leaves. Basil is easily dried for storing and future use. It is used to flavour soups, stews, tomato dishes, meat, game, fish, egg dishes, herb butters and herb vinegars.

Lemon Grass

Lemon grass is a grass like plant with long slender foliage growing to about 2-3 feet tall. Leaves are grayish-green in colour. Stems and leaves impart a strong lemon flavour when used in cooking. Because lemon grass is not winter hardy in colder climates, it is best grown as a container plant. Leaves are used to flavour fish, soups, curries, sauces, and teas. The stems and leaves are used in Vietnamese and Thai dishes. Larger parts of the stalk can be added to stews or soup and removed much as you would a bay leaf.


While there are many types of mint that can be grown in the garden, each with its own particular flavour, peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are the most common. They grow from 1-3 feet tall and aggressively spread by underground rhizomes. They produce violet flowers. Mint is often used with veal, lamb and pork dishes as well as beverages and jellies.


Sage is a shrubby, perennial plant that grows to about 2-3 feet tall. Foliage is gray-green with a pebbly texture. As it ages, it has a tendency to sprawl. Spikes of purple flowers appear in mid-summer. Leaves are used in fish, pork and poultry dishes and also with vegetables and in sausages.


Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub in warmer growing zones (zone 8 and above). Plants can grow to 4-6 feet tall with some varieties having a trailing or cascading habit. Foliage is dark green and needle-like much like a spruce or fir. Use rosemary sparingly as an accent to food as the flavour can be somewhat pungent and resinous. Use with fish, pork, lamb and poultry.

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