(Last Updated on : 23/02/2009)
Leave type spices, derived from some leaves of some plants are used as a flavoring agent. These leave type spices have a distinguishing flavour and when added with some other food they lend their flavour making it more tasty and delectable. Various leaves are used all over the world for culinary, medicinal and many other uses. Some of the commonly used leave type spices are basil, tejpat leaves, laurel leaves, chervil leaves and so on.
Basil is popularly used for flavoring soups, meat and fish dishes, certain cheeses, tomato cocktail and is one of the most widely used leave type spices in India. Sweet basil from Italy is known for its quality. In Italy, basil is an important seasoning in tomato paste products. Similarly the essential oil is also used for flavoring not only food items but also in various dental and oral products.
Bay or laurel leaves, another leave type spice is among the world`s oldest herbs. The Greeks and Romans to honor their heroes used wreaths of laurel leaves. Laurel leaves are used principally in vinegar pickle when packing pig`s feet and lamb and pork tongue. They are also used in flavoring of soups, stews, meat and game dishes, fish and sauces, pickling, spice and so on. Tejpat leaves are used extensively in Northern and Eastern India as a leave type spice. It is often confused with Bay leaves used as spice in Europe. The colonial Europeans confused the two and started to call Tejpat as Bay leaves.
The leaves of Chervil are leave type spices used both for flavoring salad and as condiment for garnishing some foods. Its flavor is similar to that of mild parsley and aniseed. The curled-leaf varieties of chervil are the most popular because of their attractive appearance. Leaves constitute the main part of the plant and are used principally for flavoring soups, stews, cottage cheese, and for seasoning salads.
Chives are practically always used fresh. However, the dried or powdered leaves of chives are among those leave type spices that are used in combination with common salt and other herbs. Curry leaves are leave type spices and a fair source of vitamin A; they are also a rich source of calcium, but due to presence of oxalic acid in high concentration (total oxalates 1.35 % and soluble oxalates 1.15 %), its nutritional availability is affected. More over the presence of oxalates may cause kidney stones. These leave type spices and flowering tops of Hyssop together have an agreeable aromatic odor, warm, pungent, and bitter taste. They are employed as flavoring for salads and soups, and also in the preparation of liquor and perfume. Occasionally, the green tops are used as potherb.
The leaves of the plant are used fresh or dried and highly esteemed as a condiment for seasoning food; they are also used also as a poultry seasoner. Fresh leaves are employed as garnish and incorporated in salads. They are often used for flavoring vinegar. The aromatic seeds are used in confectionery and French comfitures. Pudina is known to almost all the Indians as a leave type spices. It is used in `chutney` as an old popular remedy for relieving stomach complaints and cough and cold. In fact many branded medicines are now being prepared using Pudina as principal raw material. The color of the dried herb is light green. The aroma is strong, aromatic, camphoraceous and resembles that of marjoram. The taste is fragrant, spicy, warm, pungent and bitter. The plant owes its usefulness as a culinary herb to its volatile oil.
Fresh leaves are eaten fresh, incorporated in salads, and used as an ingredient of sauces, stews and soups. They are also used in meat and poultry seasonings. Fresh leaves mask even strong culinary odors and are commonly used for garnishing and seasoning. The leave type spices are also employed to make a sort of tea, which is thought to possess anti-scorbutic properties since it is very rich source of vitamin C.