We all know that taste rules when it comes to choosing what to eat. But how do you cut back on salt while still getting great flavour?
Before reaching for the salt, think about other tastier options especially combinations of herbs and spices – salternatives! We can learn a lot about herb and spice blends from other cuisines.
Think lemongrass, mint, ginger, coriander, chives.
Who doesn’t love Vietnamese cooking with its unique ingredients, especially plenty of fresh herbs? Coriander adds loads of flavour– use a large handful as a garnish right before serving. Try lemongrass with beef, poultry or fish dishes. Use mint to balance out the savory elements of dishes, such as spring rolls or dumplings. Ginger is commonly used in soups, such as pho but try adding it to chicken or vegetables.
Think oregano, basil, garlic, rosemary, cloves, thyme.
Mediterranean meals are one of the most heart healthy – and tasty- cuisines around. Be generous with oregano in tomato-based dishes. Use basil as the base for pesto, a garnish on pizza or topped on baked fish. Rosemary is versatile and works well with roast meat or vegetables, or in marinades and soups. Thyme is great in tagines and other slow cooked dishes.
Think cardamom, curry leaves, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric.
Indian cuisine is bursting with flavour thanks to the use of herbs and spices. Ditch those packet mixes and try mixing your own spices. Black cardamom is a key ingredient in many curries, dahls and biryanis/rice dishes. Cumin, an aromatic spice, is used widely in curries and dahls. Ground coriander and turmeric are widely used in spice mixes. Start with a few recipes then use your imagination to make unique spice blends.
Think saffron, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, ginger
If you haven’t tried Moroccan cuisine you are missing out! The mixtures of spices and herbs used in this style of cooking impart amazing taste – and taste even better when reheated. Saffron, while expensive, is a key ingredient in Moroccan cooking and you only need a little to impart a flavour boost. Or try turmeric as an affordable alternative to still get that yellow colour. Cinnamon is delicious in both sweet and savoury dishes. When ginger is used in Moroccan cuisine, it is usually ground rather than fresh and is added to stews, tagines and soups. Moroccan style tomato dishes and soups also feature paprika for extra spice.
Think coriander leaves, chilli powder, oregano, cumin, paprika
Spice things up with Mexican flavours! Mexican oregano, which is slightly different to regular oregano, can be used in tomato and aromatic dishes. Add coriander leaves as a fresh garnish. When it comes to seasoning meats and vegetables, get a kick from adding just enough spicy chilli powder. Cumin’s earthy flavour is also perfect for seasoning tacos and meat dishes.
Avoid those packet mixes and sauces for various cuisines – while convenient, they are often loaded with salt. Get adventurous and learn to make your own spice mixes. Its easy, fun and will taste ten times better!