Alternate names: Coriander leaf, Chinese parsley, koyendoro, Mexican parsley, pak chee, yuen-sai, green coriander, dhania.
Characteristics: You either love cilantro or hate it. Its leaves look like flat-leaf parsley but are smaller with a lankier stem. Cilantro's flavour is described by some as bright and citrusy, and as soapy by others. This herb pops up in the cuisines of India, Mexico, and Vietnam in dishes like dhania chutney, salsa, and pho. Coriander seeds are used in some pickling recipes, as well as in boerewors.
Mauris sit amet tortor, eget ornare urna. Duis varius tellus eros.
Characteristics: The two most widely available varieties of mint are peppermint and spearmint. The leaves of both look similar, with rough-fuzzy, jagged leaves, but they differ in taste. Peppermint has a strong, cooling after taste due to the high concentration of menthol. Spearmint is lighter and sweeter to the palate. Lesser-known types of mint include ginger, apple, and curly mint, which, when used in large quantities, impart the flavour connected to its name. Mint is a common ingredient in Thai food like rolls; in Middle Eastern dishes such as tabbouleh; and in traditional mint tea from North Africa. It's often paired with lamb or chocolate, and used in jellies, sauces and in cocktails such as the Mint Julep and Mojito.
Ut eget felis sed velit congue viverra. Sed porta mattis luctus.
Characteristics: This unsung hero can do more than just garnish a plate. In French and Italian cooking, many stocks, stews, and soups call for a bouquet garnish, which is flavoured with this herb. Generally speaking, flat parsley has a peppery bite whereas the curly variety is relatively bland. As their names denote, they have textural differences, too. Pastas and egg recipes often benefit from a sprinkling of chopped parsley. The clean, light flavour cuts down on heavy creaminess and also acts as a palate-cleanser. For something different, try substituting parsley for basil when making pesto.
Alternate names: dill leaf, dill weed
Characteristics: Dill resembles a fine, delicate fern with soft leaves like super fine hairs. Some describe the flavour as clean and grassy, while others dislike it for being tangy and earthy. Often used in pickling, dill goes well with potatoes and dips that incorporate mayonnaise and sour cream.
Characteristics: Both kinds share a similar flavour profile—peppery and minty with a touch of sweetness— but sweet basil has larger leaves and is relatively sweeter than its purple counterpart. Versatile green basil is largely showcased in dishes from Italy (basil pesto) and South-east Asia (green chicken curry). The dark colour of purple basil makes it a wonderful garnish. Regardless of which kind you cook with, add the leaves at the end of cooking for maximum flavour.
Alternate names: Wild marjoram, pot marjoram.
Characteristics: Oregano's hint of sweetness combined with spiciness adds warmth to any dish. Fresh oregano can be difficult to find. Use its dried counterpart sparingly as it has a stronger flavour than fresh.
Characteristics: Rosemary has a strong, even pungent, pine-like fragrance and flavour. Recipes that call for rosemary tend to require the needles to be stripped off their branches and chopped before cooking. But don't overlook the woody stems, which can be used to flavour soups and roasts. The herb pairs well with pork chops, poultry, and even fish, (especially when grilled). Vegetarians can enjoy rosemary in potatoes. And, or an unusual sweet-savory treat, try some rosemary shortbread cookies.
Characteristics: Related to onions and other bulb vegetables, this herb looks a lot like lawn grass. Its deep-green hollow stems lend a refreshingly light oniony taste, which helps cut down on the heaviness of rich foods such as blue cheese and chive dressing and risotto cakes. When finely chopped, chives work well as a garnish.
Characteristics: The light grey-green leaves are soft and fuzzy with a taste ranging from mild to slightly peppery with touches of mint. Because of its intense flavour, sage is a good herb to pair with heavy, rich, or creamy foods, like meats (sausage), certain dairy products (cheese and cream), and sweet and savory breads (cornbread). Unlike more delicate herbs, sage can be added in the beginning of the cooking process.
Characteristics: The tiny leaves on this low-growing woody plant work best in tandem with other herbs and spices such as basil, sage, and lavender. This herbal blend is often used in flatbreads (pita), roasted meat and poultry. Like rosemary, recipes using thyme require you to strip the leaves off the woody stems. Using the entire herb imparts a headier scent and flavour.
Alternate name: French tarragon, Dragon herb
Characteristics: Tarragon's glossy, long, tapered leaves impart a delicate aniseed flavour (like licorice and fennel) that is more sweet than strong. The herb is often paired with foods that absorb other flavours such as chicken, scallops, and eggs. It's not an easy herb to keep for long periods and is often placed in a bottle of vinegar. Elegant in form, it makes for an elegant garnish.
Alternate names: Sweet marjoram, knotted marjoram
Characteristics: This herb is often mistaken for oregano when judged solely on its looks, but marjoram's grassy, lemony taste is the sweeter of the two. Try using marjoram in tomato sauce, white bean salads, fish dishes and vinaigrettes.
Click on a picture below to find out more about that type of herb