Whether you're interested in learning how to cook Middle Eastern cuisine or you just want to expand your cooking repertoire and introduce new flavors and aromas to your meals, herbs can be an excellent way to get started.
Middle Eastern cuisine combines a diverse range of spices and herbs with generous vegetables, plant-based proteins, and healthy fats to create an intoxicatingly delicious taste. With a bit of practice, you can turn even the most mundane recipes into culinary masterpieces.
Herbs used in Middle Eastern cuisine
Herbs are a key component in many Middle Eastern dishes. From fennel flower and ras el hanout to nutmeg and cinnamon, the diverse range of herbs used in Middle Eastern cuisine creates flavorful and aromatic dishes.
Herbs add texture, depth and dimension to a dish without taking over the flavor. They’re often added to meats, stews and rice dishes to enhance the natural flavors of the food.
Dry oregano is one of the most common spices in Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking. It’s most commonly found in kebabs and as the finishing herb for stews.
Cardamom is another popular spice in the region. The seed is toasted and ground to add flavor to many savoury and sweet dishes.
Coriander seeds are also a key part of the mix, adding a warm nutty flavour to dishes. In addition, fenugreek seeds and leaves are used in the preparation of dishes throughout the region. Lastly, sumac is also used to lend a citrusy tang.
Herbs used in Levantine cuisine
Levantine cuisine uses a wide variety of herbs to create flavorful and aromatic dishes. They are ideal for spicing up meals and adding extra flavour to salads.
One of the most popular herbs used in Levantine cuisine is mint. It adds freshness to dips and salads, and can be found in many traditional recipes such as tabbouleh and fattoush.
It is also used to make a spice blend known as za’atar. This herb has a slightly nutty, peppery flavour that complements meat dishes as well as hummus and baba ghanoush.
Another common herb used in Middle Eastern and Levantine cooking is oregano. It is a staple in lamb dishes and forms a vital ingredient of the za’atar spice blend.
It is best used in moderation as it can get a little bitter. It can also be used in small amounts to season vegetable dishes, particularly raw ones like fava beans and cauliflower.
Herbs used in Egyptian cuisine
Egyptian herbs are a key ingredient in many traditional dishes. Herbs such as basil, fennel, coriander, mint, marjoram, and oregano are used to add flavor and a sense of freshness to meals.
Herbs are often added to soups and stews as well as salads. They help add a bit of freshness to these dishes and can also act as a preservative.
Egypt is a country with a rich history and an amazing culinary culture. Its cuisine is full of delicious traditional foods that are sure to delight your taste buds.
The ingredients in Egyptian food vary from region to region, but there are a few staples that are common throughout the country. These include baba ghanoush, ful medames, and falafel.
The fusion of spices and flavors in Egyptian dishes makes each meal a mouth-watering experience. It is a blend of foods from various cultures and regions of the world, which creates a rich, aromatic and healthy dish.
Herbs used in Turkish cuisine
Herbs and spices are a crucial part of Turkish cuisine, as they help to bring out the flavor of the main ingredients rather than hiding them behind sauces. These herbs and spices have many health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels and eliminating toxins.
Thyme, for example, is a popular herb in Turkish dishes, especially red meat dishes. It can be used to marinate a dish or added as a condiment while cooking the food.
In addition, thyme can be used in salads and soups. It is also often used as a seasoning for vegetable dishes or as a dip with bread.
Rosemary is another herb that is widely used in Turkish cuisine. It comes from the leaves of a Mediterranean dwarf tree and smells pleasant.
Cumin is another common spice used in Turkish recipes. It is very aromatic and can be used in a variety of ways, such as with chickpeas or tahini. It also pairs well with garlic or fennel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the side effects of basil?
Basil is an herb that originated in tropical regions of India, Africa, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile.
The plant is easy to grow in most climates and requires little maintenance. Basil also thrives in poor soil conditions and is very drought tolerant.
As for the health benefits, more than 200 known compounds are found in basil, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, polysaccharides, essential oils, vitamins, and minerals.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, basil contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties which may help relieve symptoms associated with arthritis, asthma, allergies, bronchitis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, depression, eczema, insomnia, infections, migraines, osteoporosis, psoriasis, respiratory problems, stress, and ulcers.
Basil is also a culinary spice and is often added to tomato sauces, soups, salads, pasta dishes, rice dishes, dips, casseroles, pizza toppings, pesto, chicken wings, and popcorn.
However, like all herbs, basil should be consumed in moderation. Too much of anything is not good for you. For example, eating large amounts of basil could lead to stomach upset. And if you have sensitive tummies, avoid consuming basil during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before taking herbal supplements.
You should only take one type of supplement at a time. If you take other medications, make sure they do not interact with each other.
You should never use herbs while on medication unless directed by your doctor.
Some people experience allergic reactions when using herbs, especially those allergic to ragweed. Symptoms include hives, swelling around the mouth or eyes, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations, blurred vision, loss of consciousness, seizures, or even death.
Some people who take certain medications may develop an allergy to basil. These drugs include:
- Antacids (like Alka Seltzer)
- Anti-anxiety medicines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, etc.)
- Beta-blockers (like Propranolol)
- Blood thinners (like Coumadin)
- Calcium channel blockers (like Amlodipine)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (like Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, and Pravachol)
- Diabetes medicine (like Glucophage)
- Diuretics (like Lasix)
- Heartburn medicines (like Prilosec OTC)
- Hormone therapy (like Premarin, Tamoxifen, Femara)
- Insulin (like Humalog, Lantus, Novolin R)
- NSAIDs (like Aleve, Motrin, Advil, Excedrin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen)
- Oral contraceptives (like Ortho Evra, Yasmin, Loestrin, Ovrette, Yaz, and Seasonale)
- Pain relievers (like Aspirin, Celebrex, Vicodin, Percodan, Darvocet, Dilaudid, Fiorinal, Tylenol 3s, Naproxen, Motrin, Tramadol, Ultram, Voltaren
What spice is good for inflammation?
Turmeric is one spice that can be beneficial for reducing inflammation. It contains the active ingredient curcumin, which has been studied extensively and shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Other spices like ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, and cardamom may also reduce inflammation in the body. Adding these spices to your diet can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
Another spice that can be used to reduce inflammation is black pepper. The active ingredient in black pepper, piperine, has been studied and found to have anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help reduce pain associated with inflammation. Additionally, the spice contains antioxidants which are beneficial for overall health.
Adding black pepper to your diet may help reduce inflammation and promote overall health. Be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any spice to your diet, as some spices may interact with your medications or supplements. Eating various healthy foods, including spices with anti-inflammatory benefits, can help keep your body balanced and reduce the risk of chronic inflammation-related illnesses.
In summary, adding spices to your diet can be beneficial for reducing inflammation and promoting overall health. Spices like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic, cardamom, and black pepper have all been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory effects.
How is basil used for medicinal purposes?
In ancient times, doctors would prescribe basil leaves to treat colds and coughs. Today, basil contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal remedy for arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, eczema, gout, hay fever, indigestion, migraines, menstrual cramps, sinus infections, sore throats, ulcers, varicose veins, and more.
Basil is also known for its ability to help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, skin conditions, and even aging.
Basil is often referred to as "the herb of grace" because it helps us relax and unwind after stressful situations. It is also said to improve memory and concentration, boost energy levels, increase libido, and enhance athletic performance.
The list goes on and on. Basil is a versatile plant that offers a wide range of benefits for our health and well-being.
How do you make medicinal herbs?
There are many different methods to make herbs into medicinal products. The most common method is to dry the herbs in a warm, dark location before grinding them into a powder or extracting their essential oils. This can be accomplished by hanging herbs upside down in bunches, laying herbs on a drying screen, or using a food dehydrator.
Once dried and ground, herbs can be stored in airtight containers for future use. Other herbs may require special preparation, such as infusing herbs into oil or vinegar, making tinctures with alcohol, or distilling herbs to create essential oils.
Learning the correct techniques for preparing herbs can help ensure that they retain their medicinal properties and potency for optimal health benefits. Using fresh herbs is usually best, but herbs can also be grown in a pot or garden and harvested when they are mature. Herbs can be purchased at health food stores, online retailers, and specialty shops.
No matter where herbs come from, the preparation techniques remain the same; drying herbs in a warm location followed by grinding or extracting the essential oils. You can make your medicinal herbs with the right herbs and preparation techniques.
When making herbal preparations, it is essential to remember that herbs can vary in potency, so always dilute herbs before use or follow the directions on any product label. Additionally, herbs are best used fresh, as many of their beneficial components degrade over time.
Following safety guidelines and paying attention to the potency of herbs can help ensure that you get the most benefit from your herbs. With a bit of practice and preparation, anyone can make therapeutic herbs with medicinal properties. Remember that herbs should never replace any medical advice or treatments prescribed by a doctor. Always consult a licensed healthcare professional before using herbs medicinally.
What herbs should you take daily?
Depending on your health and wellness needs, many herbs can be taken daily to help improve your overall health.
Popular herbs for daily consumption include ashwagandha, turmeric, ginger, holy basil, chamomile, lavender, peppermint, and cayenne pepper. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that can help the body resist stress and anxiety. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while ginger has been shown to aid digestion and boost immunity. Holy basil may help with managing blood sugar levels, as well as providing a calming effect. Chamomile can promote relaxation, while lavender is used in aromatherapy for its calming properties. Peppermint can help aid digestion and reduce nausea, while cayenne pepper has antibacterial properties that may boost your immunity.
As always, you must consult your doctor before taking herbs daily to ensure they are safe for you and do not interact with any other medications or herbs you may be taking.
There is no shortage of information on what foods we should eat and how much exercise we should do. But when it comes to what supplements we should take, there is a dearth of knowledge.
This is because most of us aren’t sure which ones work or which are junk. So we go online and look up whatever we can find.
But often, these articles are written by companies trying to promote their products. Which means they're usually biased toward their product.
So instead of finding unbiased advice, we end up reading marketing hype.
This makes sense since marketers make more money selling stuff than doctors.
The medical industry isn’t even allowed to advertise directly to consumers anymore. The best way to learn about natural remedies is to read independent reviews.
This is where you'll find real users sharing their experiences with each supplement. These sites give you an honest opinion of whether or not a particular herb helps.
Users will often share their experience with a supplement after taking it. This gives you a good idea of its effectiveness and any side effects.
You can also check out forums dedicated to herbalism. Here you can ask questions and receive answers based on personal experience.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to learn about herbs.
There are books, websites, blogs, videos, podcasts, and classes. All of them provide valuable information about natural remedies.
- Herbs are among the most popular and widely used medicinal remedies. According to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, herbs were used by over 38% of adults in the United States.
- For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15% (72Trusted Source73Trusted (healthline.com)
- Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents - PubMed
- Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant - PMC
- Peppermint oil (Mintoil®) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective, double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial
- Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression, and phosphorylation of CREB
What to look for in herbs?
Herbs contain natural compounds that may help treat various conditions. In addition, herbal remedies may provide relief when used along with conventional treatments.
Herbal remedies include teas, capsules, tablets, ointments, creams, lotions, oils, and topical applications. Some of these products are meant to be taken internally, while others are applied externally.
The most common uses of herbal remedies include relieving minor aches and pains, treating cold symptoms, reducing fever, controlling coughs and sore throats, easing digestion problems, soothing skin irritations, alleviating menstrual cramps, and providing general health benefits.
When buying herbs, look for the following:
- Freshly picked plants. Avoid dried herbs unless they've been stored in a cool place. If possible, buy herbs directly from farmers' markets.
- Pure extracts. These are made by extracting the active ingredients from herbs using alcohol or water. Look for 100% pure extractions.
- Certified organic herbs. Organic herbs must meet strict standards set forth by the USDA.
- Natural flavors. Many herbs have strong scents that can overwhelm other foods. Adding flavorings such as vanilla, almond, or orange helps mask their smell.
- Potency. The amount of active ingredient per unit weight varies depending on the type of herb.
- Packaging. When purchasing herbs, check the packaging to ensure that it's clean and free of chemicals.
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