Thanks to http://www.Visitgreece.gr for reminding us about the beautiful fragrance and tastes the spices give to our wonderful Greek food. The smells and essences of these spices date back to the very beginning of civilization and many brought from Asia on the way to the West.
So many of these spices are not only fragrant and flavorful, but they are scientifically healthy as well.
- Purlsane: Good for raw salads, it protects the heart.
- Basil: A stomach tonic as herbal tea, it calms the nerves and the headaches. It’s famous for its wonderful aroma and its insect-repellent properties too.
- Valeriana: The anti-stress element of nature.
- Anis: As tea it invigorates the digestive and the nervous systems; in dough and drinks (ouzo, tsípouro) it gives a rich taste.
- Laurel: With antiseptic properties against the catarrh and bronchitis, it adds a tasteful aroma to pulses, salads and meats. In its oily form, it tonifies hair.
- Spearmint: In its essential oil version it fights against inflammations in the nasopharynx, gingivitis, and rheumatics. It is beneficiary in case of stomach conditions and migraines. Irreplaceable for sauces and meatballs.
- Rosemary: Anaemia, insomnia, dizziness and mind exhaustion can find a good rival in rosemary. If boiled, its vapour functions as a great face cleanser. It is used in hair lotions too.
- Dittany: Spasmolytic, tonifying, anti-diabetic as tea; useful in aromatherapy and for pharmaceutical applications as an essential oil.
- Eucalyptus: When boiled, its vapour helps as an antiseptic for the lungs. What is more, it makes a tea with digestive and tonifying effects.
- Thyme: Antiseptic and tonifying, it fights against fever and flu, as well as skin infections. It gives off a wonderful aroma when used to marinate meat.
- Coriander: Good for your stomach, it is used to season fish and meat alike.
- Lemon verbena: A natural analgesic, especially for the stomach.
- Lavender: It calms your body, it perfumes the house, and it is the perfect natural antibiotic against infections.
- Lemon balm: It makes a tea with excellent anti-stress, analgesic and tonifying effects.
- Mint: With its peppery pleasant taste it gives you a soft push and some digestive help. It is famous as an ingredient for pastry, for liqueurs, for perfumes and for medicines.
- Mallow: For relaxing and smoothing needs of the stomach.
- Dandelion: For anaemia, cholesterol, diabetes and skin conditions. Traditional pies and salads are lucky to have it as an ingredient.
- Oregano: If you suffer from diarrhea or travellers’ nausea and if you feel weak, it’s what you need. Enjoy it on the famous Greek salad and with all kinds of meat.
- Nettle: It detoxifies your body, it fights against cholesterol and stomach conditions and it helps you against anaemia. Take in its beneficiary properties in pies.
- Greek Mountain Tea (sideritis clandestina): It’s the commonest type of tea not just for its delicious taste, but also for its digestive, warming, tonifying and antioxidant effects. Get rid of your cold with its aid, and use it with lemon and honey as an antiseptic for your throat.
- Sage: Aromatic, digestive, disinfective, tonifying and soothing at the same time.
- Camomile: It will tonify you and it will calm you; but it will also be your loyal ally for beauty and skin health.
- Cinnamon Has been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and normalize insulin.
Star Anise: Is the primary source of shikimic acid, a plant-based compound that is the precursor to oseltamivir, an antiviral medication that is marketed as Tamiflu
Cloves: Are renown for temporarily treatment of a toothache. You can temporarily alleviate the pain by dabbing a little clove oil on a cotton ball and placing it on the
sore tooth or on your gums. Cloves also Relieve upper respiratory infections, reduce inflammation and improve digestion.
Mahlab: According to mahlab seed oil was found to have potentials to become a new edible oil source as it contained a high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids especially, α-eleostearic acid, which is a conjugated fatty acid rarely found in vegetable oils and has a beneficial effects on human health.
Saffron: Saffron contains more than 150 volatile compounds and its a powerful carotenoid and antioxidant that can protect your body from free radical damage.
There is no doubt that cinnamon is the queen of all spices, with a tinge of sweetness and warmth. It has been very popular since ancient times. Did you know that the English name “cinnamon” derives from the ancient Greek word “κιννάμωμον” (kinnamomon)?
Use it in traditional sweets, cookies, cream, cakes and sweet breads. Also use it in dishes of red meat, poultry, fish as well as marinades.
Try it in Bougatsa
Cloves have a strong, particularly biting taste and a pleasant aroma. Their flavour is a mixture of spicy and sweet notes and can be used either in confectionery or cooking with equally satisfactory results. It is a spice reminiscent of winter and autumn flavours, as it offers a sense of warmth and coziness.
Use them to season pork and beef meat, nail them on onions and add them in your broths. Also bake pies, tarts, and prepare sweets and syrups with a pinch of cloves, add them to fruits, walnuts and honey or season your favourite liqueur with them.
Try them in Baklava
Nutmeg has a nice strong penetrating aroma and an intense, almost sweet taste. There is no doubt that cinnamon is its true match, yet a combination of nutmeg and cloves is a fine one as well.
Use it mostly in traditional sweets, in red meat dishes and sauces, in salads and liqueurs.
Try it in Mousaka
Saffron is known as the “red gold” deriving from the red stigmas of the crocus flower. The Greek crocus of Kozani is known to yield top quality saffron, the world over. Having a light violet aroma, a wonderful slightly bitter taste and a unique yellow colour, saffron takes creations in pastry, cooking, cheese making and liquor-making to great heights.
Use it: in rice, potatoes, pasta, white meat and seafood or in your coffee and tea.
Try it: in Mussel Pilaf with Saffron
Cardamom has a strong piquant taste with lemon and pine notes. It is considered one of the most expensive spices and it is famous for its stimulating properties.
Use it: mostly in sauces and vegetables. It makes interesting combinations with rice, chicken, lentils, cream, carrots, citrus fruits, pumpkin, tea and coffee.
Try it: in Baked quinces with cardamom
Coriander was very popular in antiquity, as ancient Greeks believed that it could secure immortality of the soul. It has an earthy yet strong flavour leaving a citrus and sage aftertaste.
Use whole seeds or grate it in order to flavour your soups, roasts and lemon-seasoned meat, fishes, poultry and vegetables.
Try it: in Potatoes with coriander
The Greek name of anise “glykanissos” betrays its sweet character [glýka means sweetness]. Its best known use is in the famous ouzo, the Greeks’ favourite drink for the summertime. It is also used to flavour tsipouro drink.
Use it in baking and pastry-making
Try it in ouzo cookies
Ginger has a strong piquant taste, leaving a tickling sensation on the tongue. Ancient Greeks knew it as zingiveri. It is today the basic ingredient of Ginger Beer, a well-known alcoholic drink made in Corfu.
Use it either grated or in the form of syrup to season your sweets and sauces.
Try it in Olive oil with ginger
Mahlab comes from the kernel of the sour cherry. On account of its intense aroma it is mostly used in pastry-making, leaving a unique aftertaste of cherry and bitter almond.
Use it in traditional Greek sweet bread (tsoureki) and in cookies.
Try it in Tsoureki
For links to the recipes and more information about travel, eating and touring Greece see more here: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/nature/flora/aromatic_and_therapeutic_herbs
1 http://ebm.rsmjournals.com/content/227/1/20.full, Cancer Chemopreventive and Tumoricidal Properties of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.)
2 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23168242, Investigation of the neuroprotective action of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in aluminum-exposed adult mice through behavioral and neurobiochemical assessment, Dec. 2012
Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research only