Turmeric is used for its flavour and atteracive golden colour. A robust herbaceous perennial grows to a height of 1 metre with a short stem and tufted leaves. Turmeric is usually propagated from fingers or small sections of rhizome. The rhizomes grow best in a hot, moist climate. Turmeric smells peppery and fresh with a hint of oranges and ginger. It tastes pungent, bitter and musky. Turmeric is also an important flavouring for many Thai dishes, especially in curry powder. Turmeric is used commercially in sauces and in processed food. It is often added to mustard blends. Turmeric is taken as a tonic and as a remedy for liver problems. The juice of the raw rhizomes added to ointments is applied to treat skin diseases. Turmeric is a traditional textile dye. In paste form it is applied as a beauty mask.
Cumin Scientific name:Cuminum cyminum L. Vernacular name:Yira
Cumin gives a distinctive warm flavour to an enormous range of savoury dishes. The seeds are oval and 5-6 mm long with longitudinal ridges and a few little bristles. They are usually light brown. But may be greenish or grayish. Cumin is one of the main constituents of curry powders. It is an annual and a hot-climate plant, grows to a height of 30-45 cm and produces a stem with many branches bearing long. Finely divided, deep green leaves and small flowers, white or rose colour, borne in umbels. The smell of cumin is quite pronounced, strong and heavy with acrid or warm depths. Cumin seeds taste slightly bitter, sharp and warm, and their pungent flavour persists for some time. Cumin is generally dry roasted before use to bring out its flavour. It is also found in pickles, ground cumin is frequently added to minced meat dishes and to vegetables. Cumin seeds are used as a remedy for diarrhea flatulence and indigestion.
Mint Scientific name:Mentha cordifolia Opiz ex Fresen Bernacular name:Saranae
Saranae belongs to the genus Mentha which consists of about 40 species of aromatic perennial herbs distributed mostly in the northern hemisphere. In Thailand, Mentha, cordifolia are reported to grow naturally. They have erect, square, branching stems, aromatic foliage, and flowers in leaf-axils. Their teas are popular a cool and refreshing taste. They flavour confectionery, drinks, cigarettes, toothpastes, and medicines. Mints are stimulant, aid digestion and reduce flatulence. It is included in ointments for cold remedies, and is given for headaches and other aches and pains.
Common Basil, Sweet Basil Scientific name:Ocimum basilicum L. Vernacular name:Horapha
Sweet Basil is an erect glavrous herb, 30-90 cm high, has square stems with strong, fresh, clove-scented, toothed leaves and small, white, scented flowers, it is easily grown at home or in gardens in ordinary soil. The warm, spicy taste of this popular herb’s leaf combines will with garlic, tomatoes, aubergines, and many Thai dishes. The fresh leaves is important seasoning in Thai beef curry, fish soups, meat pies, etc. The essential oil flavours condiments, liquours, perfumes and soap. The plant is considered stomachic, aphrodisiac, expectorant, carminative and stimulant. An infusion aids digestion and is anti-bacterial, inhaling the essential oil refreshes the mind and stimulates a sense of smell dulled by viral infection. In massage oils, it is a nerve tonic and eases over-worked muscles. Basil should be avoided on sensitive skin and during pregnancy. It is delicious in sauces and with chicken.
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Article Added on Tuesday, January 2, 2007
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