It’s true that food is one of the biggest parts of Greek culture. Part of what makes Greek cuisine so special is its use of herbs and spices. Simple meals can be transformed by adding a pinch of this or a dash of that, in pursuit of the perfect blend of seasoning.What’s even better, herbs can be grown right at home in a garden or even in pots on a balcony or patio. Manyof these herbs can also be grown indoors. Here’s more information about the most common herbs and spicesfound in Greek cuisine:
Allspice, also known by its Greek name of bahari, was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage, which took him to Jamaica. The “Jamaica pepper,” as it is also called, was introduced into Mediterranean and European cuisines during the 1500s. Allspice is still mainly grown in Jamaica. Allspice provides a spicy and exotic flavor to meats in Greek dishes and it can even be used in desserts such as kataifi and baklava, making it a versatile spice to have on your shelf.
Dill is an aromatic herb that is a member of the parsley family. The seeds and leaves of dill can both be used in cooking. Dill pairs well with fish, especially salmon, vegetables, potato salad, andwith yogurt and sour cream dips. The seeds of dill can be used to flavor meat and bread.
Oregano, also known as riganiin Greek, is probably the most well-known and used spice in Greek cooking. Origanum vulgare (meaning “joy of the mountains” in Greek) is the variety of oregano that is grown in Greece. This variety has a moderately different flavor than oregano you will get elsewhere. Oregano is another versatile spice that goes well with so many foods including soups, salads, and bean dishes. It is also used to flavor tomato sauce and meats.
Mint is another aromatic herb used in Greek cooking. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean and derives its name from a mythic nymph named Minthe. Mint is easy to grow, so it’s very popular with gardeners. It is generally used in savory foods such as stuffed grape leaves and meatballs. Mint tea is arefreshing drink and can be used to relieve an upset stomach.
Ground saffron ranges from red-orange to red in color. It’s interesting to note that saffron is suitable for vegan, gluten-free, and paleo diets. Saffron has an earthy taste that can be fruity or pungent. Saffron is grown in Greece and inexpensive to buy there. It is used in rice and seafood dishes and canalso be added to soups.
While parsley is widely known to be used as a garnish, it is also used in Greek cooking. Thanks to its light scent and lovely taste, parsley can be used with vegetables and in sauces and soups. It can even be used with ground meat, especially lamb. Parsley is the main herb used in the stuffing of grape leaves.
Greek herbs and spices offer a variety of aromas and tastes to dishes. The above herbs and spices are just a handful of the flavors that are added to Greek dishes.