Pantry 101: Christmas Herbs and Spices (The Foodie Magazine, Dec 2013)

Herbs and spices play a huge role in our appreciation of flavor. Not only do they lend flavor, they also add to the aroma to our dishes. We list down a few of the most common herbs and spices which will be brightening up your Christmas meals.

One of the essential components of the classic trio – bay leaf, parsley, and thyme. Bay leaf doesn’t lose its flavor over time but on the contrary, it gains more when dried. Often used for soups, stews, or braises.


Sold ground as powder or originally as sticks. That is also why Indonesians call it as ‘kayu manis’ as it has a unique sweetness, fragrant, and pleasant feel. Suitable as flavorings for sweets and beverages and also used widely for savory dishes in the Middle East.


Slightly sweet, very floral, and often made into syrup. Additionally lavender is also used for cake decorations as well as dressings for salad. Its abundant nectar from the flowers creates high quality honey.


Native of the Spice Islands of the eastern part of Indonesia. Nutmeg has a spicy flavor and aroma used in both sweet and savory cooking. Now it has been traditionally used in many cuisines such as Indonesian, Japanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and as far as European.


A strong flavored herb that goes well with lamb or beef, and often used as stuffings or marinades. Its versatility is much loved for culinary uses and even some use it for medicinal use. It is believed that rosemary improves memory quality.


Slightly bitter, strongly aromatic, and can withstand long cooking times without losing its flavor. Sage is used in small quantities for a range of dishes including meats, stuffings, soups, casseroles, sauces, and dressings.


Native of East Asia and famously used as one of the essentials in Chinese five-spice powder and enhances meat flavour. Used more in the West for the production of liquors while in Asia, people are using it for cooking and medicinal uses.


Although originally used for embalming or incense in ancient past, thyme becomes one of the common component of bouquet garni. The fresh thyme is more flavorful than the dried one and gives a complex taste of mint, lemon, or even similar to oregano.


Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE December 2013 edition

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