Common herbs used in Indian recipes

Fresh, green herbs are used to add a distinct flavour and aroma to food. You can pluck them off the plant or buy them at the grocery store. Herbs are available in various forms fresh, preserved or dry and they can transform your simple dishes into flavoursome, delectable delights. Herbs are every chef’s real essentials as they are aromatic and full of flavour. Indian herbs please all kinds of preferences and palates. Here are six of the most popular Indian herbs which can enhance the taste of any dish. Next time when you are in doubt, just pluck some fresh herbs and sprinkle them onto your dish.

1. Basil

Basil is one of the most popular herbs in India with several health benefits. It has a mild and sweet flavour and is considered the king of Indian herbs. The word Basil means ‘king’ in Greek language and it is rightly named as it is a culinary expert. Various chefs and experts consider it a royal herb and use it primarily for its aroma in Indian as well as international cuisines.While freshly plucked basil adds much needed fragrance to the dish, dried basil leaves mostly contribute to the taste.

Types of Basil

Sweet Basil: Sweet basil is one of the most common varieties of basil and it is used in Italian cuisineand tomato based dishes.
Lemon Basil: Lemon Basil is mostlyfound in Asia and north-eastern Africa. It is predominantlyused in Thai cuisine.
Thai Basil: Thai Basil isidentified by its flowery green leavesand purple stem and it has a mint-like flavour. Holy Basil:Holy basil is known as tulsi and it is mostly grown in Indian homes. Also, it has various medicinal qualities.

Health benefits of Basil

  1. Controls blood pressure
  2. Ensures oxygen carrying capacity in blood
  3. Good source of powerful antioxidants

Popular Basil dishes:

Margarita pizza,Tomato Basil soup, Pesto, Basil tea, Basil pasta salad and fruit salads.

2. Parsley

Parsley also got its name from Greek language and it is used mainly for garnishing unlike other herbs which are used for flavouring. Parsley is dark green in colour and it has stubby stems. It can be sprinkled over dishes right before serving. With its amazingly aromatic qualities, it tempts the taste buds and adds to the flavourof any dish. While fresh parsley is highly aromatic, dry parsley has little or no fragrance at all.

Types of Parsley

Curly leaf Parsley:

These leafs are less fragrant and bitter in taste, it is mainly used for garnishing soups and salads.

Italian or flat leaf Parsley:

These are very flavoursome and mainly used while cooking the dish as it retains its flavour till the end.

Health benefits of Parsley

  1. Its fresh fragrance works as a great mouth freshener and helps you get rid of bad breath especially those caused by onion and garlic.
  2. Helps in digestion and boosts immunity against infections and common cold
  3. Rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C
  4. Helps improve delayed menstrual cycles

Popular Parsley dishes:

Meat, Mashed, buttered Parsley potatoes, and vegetable soup with Parsley garnishing, Parsley pesto, and grilled trout with lemon.


Thyme is mostly added to the dish along with all the other ingredients because it releases its strong, pungent flavour very slowly. It is mostly used in dishes that involve sautéing, tossing, and stewing such as scrambled eggs, salads and soups.Both fresh and dried forms of the herb are popular ingredients for a wide variety of dishes across multiple cuisines. Thyme is also added to meat and vegetable preparations and is a significant element for marinades.

Types of Thyme

Thyme comes in as many as 60 varieties, however, there are three most popular kinds that are used extensively across Greek,Italian,Indian, French, Spanish, and even Turkish cuisine.

Garden Thyme:

This is the most common type of Thyme and it resembles Lemon Thyme in flavour and appearance.

Orange Thyme:

Its orange peel flavour is an excellent flavouring for roasted meat and vegetables, chutneys and tea.

Lemon Thyme:

It is a more pronounced version of Garden Thyme and it has a strong lemony aroma, it works best with fish dishes.

Health benefits of Thyme

  1. Thyme is antiseptic in nature and when boiled with water and tea, it helps treat throat infections and dry coughs.
  2. Rich source of fibre.

Popular Thyme dishes:

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme, Spiced Roast Salmon, Thyme and Garlic Chicken, and Thyme Au Gratin Potatoes.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary is a firm, woody herb with fragrant, needle-like leaves. It tastes bittersweet and lemony and is popularly used across dishes that involve stuffing or dressing. It is also used as a flavouring agent for soups, vegetable platters, meat dishes particularly lamb, and fruit salads. They are usually minced or crushed well before they’re sprinkled on the foods or mixed with spices used forseasoning meats.

Health benefits of Rosemary

  1. It has soothing aroma and is a great mood elevator
  2. It acts as a natural remedy for migraine
  3. Anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties in Rosemary help cure minor infections and build immunity.

Popular Rosemary dishes:

Rosemary chicken with potatoes, Rosemary lamb shanks, and Rosemary shortbread.

5. Sage

Sage is a latin term which means ‘to save’ and it is rightly called so because, it has several healing properties. It is a shrubby culinary herbthat is not particularly dark green in colour. It has long, circular leaves and a strong peppery flavour. Sage is arelatively flexible herb and is used in all three forms – fresh, dry and preserved. Freshly plucked sage is soaked in olive oil and preserved in refrigerator after which it can be used for almost two months. That ways, both the leaves and the oil infusion can be used in salad dressings or sauteing purposes. Sage plays the role of a seasoning ingredient for fatty meats such as poultry and pork, which is during the early phase of cooking. This is mainly because it helps in digestion and ensures a toned flavour. Besides this it also compliments stuffed foods such as risotto, tomato sauces, potatoes and beans.

Health benefits of Sage

  1. Helps in digestion
  2. Treats inflammatory conditions such as rheumatic arthritis and bronchial asthma

Popular Sage dishes:

Sage mashed potatoes, Sage and onion stuffing, Onion Sage fish sauce, grilled red onion salad with cheese and Sage.

6. Mint

Mint is one of the most commonly grownand used ingredients across the world. It is a fresh, flavoursome, lush green herb that comes with a long shelf life so it can be stored in airtight bags for months. Menthol is its core ingredient and it gives it the characteristic aroma and flavour. Mint is the most flexible flavouring agents among all herbs and mint leaves are used from the beginning of the meal until the very end – main course, appetizers, desserts and beverages! So you can add them to salads, teas,lemonades, soups, cocktails, candies, chocolates, and more. Not to mention, it is also used as a garnish and is by far the prettiest of the lot too.

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