Thursday, October 02, 2008

Dried & Tested

As much as I would like to be a gee whiz in a supremely well-stocked and efficient kitchen (notwithstanding the fact that I can do a lot to improve my end of things), one group of aids I'm learning to do without is dried herbs, which mostly smell of tea.

A thoughtful friend who knew of my fondness for cooking brought me several containers of dried herbs from the US, all well within their best-by dates. Reconstituted or not, most of them smelt of tea. It was only the oregano, I think, which retained some semblance of the original smell. I had them for years, finally gave up on them and threw them away. When I recently went to Thailand, I trawled the Net for good spice stores, went to one and brought back some kaffir lime, some lemongrass, galangal and some basil. Happily, everything except the basil performed well right from the beginning - a soup I made smelt gloriously of lemongrass and galangal, a paneer recipe to which I added kaffir lime took on its aroma and the basil smelt like tea. I haven't thrown it away, though - I'm a hopeful soul.

It's not often that I see exotic-to-India herbs such as thyme, rosemary and even parsley at my neighbourhood store, so when I saw parsley this week, I thought of the baby potatoes at home and picked up a packet. I sprinkled a bit of it over my breakfast of scrambled eggs, but they didn't seem to go well together - I hadn't chopped up the parsley well enough, but still ...

Then a couple of days later, I washed about 20 baby potatoes, boiled them with their skins on, let them cool, peeled them, rinsed them once and tossed them in a pan over fire with 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil to which 6 cloves of minced garlic had been added. After making sure the garlic got distributed evenly among the potatoes (during which process I added some salt), I added about a fistful of finely chopped parsley and sauted the potatoes some more - maybe for a couple of minutes. Then I took them off the fire and tried not to wolf them down.

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  1. Those potatoes look yummy. And in my personal opinion, parsley has no taste nor flavor.:)

  2. Potatoes look yumm.
    Well i think if you eat raw parsley it taste erry, well that is what i say to my hubby and he remarks just like srividya says, parsly don't have any taste.
    Now a tip for you. If you have leftover fresh parsley chope it up and freeze them.
    I do that always.

  3. Sra, the potatoes look great. I personally do not like parsley, much prefer our very own coriander leaves.

  4. Potatoes look delicious..Seems you have a great liking towards exotic herbs..

  5. The baby potatoes look so cute & delish.

  6. Baby potatoes in olive oil-garlic-parsley combo looks delicious...and I loved the title"dried and tested"!!

  7. This sounds so different. Looks so good. YUM!

  8. Parsley is not for everyone. My mom and P just hate it. will never touch anything with parsley in it. But i like it just fine...i mean its neither the most wonderful thing i have tasted nor the worst.i usually only use it for the mediterranean dishes that i cook.

  9. Saute spuds are great as a side :) Should have tasted great if u ve tossed in butter! Look better with dried herb!

  10. I have never used dried herbs other than kasuri methi. They give a wondeful aroma and tint very well the masala/spices already inplace. and peeling baby potatoes are a pain in the neck! This looks like the simplest curry and they look lovely! so what did u have them with?

  11. I've never been too fond of parsley....I feel that it is a much poorer cousin of corrainder sans the smell and flavour.

  12. These potatoes look good, but some herbs are also a bit of an acquired taste.
    I know potatoes are a vegetable you find in most cuisines, but at the end of the day, I prefer them Indian style- spicy and with some masala! :)

  13. Vidya, I agree, even after I sauteed it, there was no flavour!
    Happy, will do, but don't think I will experiment with parsley again in a hurry, have done it too many times and am not impressed.
    Indo, yeah, I was just trying for an 'authentic' Western dish :)
    Divya, yes, I like to explore.
    Laavanya, thanks, actually, some of them are too giant for "baby" potatoes!
    Divya, thanks, one of those lucky titles which came naturally.
    Sukanya, thanks, try it!
    Priyanka, I like chewing on parsley at the end of a meal, but I think that's about it.
    Cham, I didn't have any butter at home!
    Ni, kasuri methi has never worked for me - should include that in the post. With the list of other dishes you've volunteered to feed me, put one with kasuri methi on the list!!!
    Jayashree, I suppose so, that's what I'm realising.
    Aparna, I liked the potatoes, parsley was inoffensive, but didn't seem to have its own taste, but this was more a rant about dried herbs not tasting like anything but tea. I have made baked potatoes with fresh rosemary and absolutely love them!

  14. you hit the nail on the head..dried herbs DO smell like tea, maybe next time we shud boil them and make herbal tea instead:)

  15. look at them is as though the potatoes are calling me and asking me to eat..yum!

  16. oh they were potatos :)). I thought that is something else after looking at the pic. pic is too good :)

  17. oh this is one of my favorite ways to eat boiled potatoes. in germany they just serve it boiled, which i do not like. i prefer sautéing them in oil and serving them just like you do. looks lovely!

  18. ooh, the baby potatoes look cute and yummy. You're right! Dried herbs do taste like tea. Recently I bought dried curry leaves powder, it smelled funny. So now taking rest somewhere in my pantry, he he!

  19. it's odd you oregano had flavour 'cos no matter from where i have bought oregano dried, it smells like nothing in particular. when i dry homegrown oregano, it just blows me away.

    tulsi (holy basil) is a decent substitute for basil.

  20. Delhibelle, that will smell of tea too, not herbs! :(
    Sangeeth, dive in!
    Bhawana, they are shaped funny, aren't they?
    Meeta, I loved the way the oil brought out the garlicky flavour and made it adhere to the potatoes - not sure that would have been possible in boiled garlicky spuds :)
    Uma, yeah, only after I got into blogging, I realised how valuable curry leaves are, tho' I had heard some NRIs mentioning this before.
    Bee, yes, but the stuff that comes with pizza is quite aromatic, and it is dried! Maybe they pulverise ajwain and add it to those dry bits - yes, I suppose that's what they do!

  21. I too have a bunch of dried herbs in my pantry that I never use! I always used to buy fresh herbs, just use a bit and throw the rest away. But I recently discovered frozen herbs, fresh herbs chopped up and packed in a box with a resealable hole on top. Shake, sprinkle and return to the freezer. Tastes and smells almost like the real thing, and no more wasted herbs!

  22. wow, these potatoes looks delicious sra. I also keep some dried herbs - oregano, mint (from my garden), rosemary and I am thinking of making some dried basil this time. :)

  23. Sra,
    I would prefer our home grown coriander leaves over parsley .
    I really wonder how people are so fond of eating parsley pesto ??
    baby poatoes make good aloo dum also, try it you will love it .
    hugs and smiles

  24. I much prefer fresh frozen herbs to dry. My freezer is bursting with them.

  25. yum yum...those tatoes looked like gnocchi....but i am not a majot fan of cilantro and kasoori methi to death how are you doing missy....


  26. lovely potatoes .. I havent used parsley much in my cooking .. looks like its time

  27. Looks so delicious. Good way to use up herbs..

  28. Sig, okay, when I find thyme and rosemary next, I know what to do!
    Mandira, lucky you, having a garden. i keep tulsi and pandan leaf downstairs, in the common area around my apt, and go and visit them from time to time - I keep forgetting they exist!
    Jaya, oh yes, I've made aloo dum with these!
    Mallika, yeah, frozen seems to be the consensus.
    Deesha, so have you tried it yet?
    Shreya, thanks.

  29. It's true. Many dried herbs are DOA, although when they work, they are potent (rosemary, sage, oregano). Dried parsley is anemic compared to fresh, but you might like your scrambled eggs with chives instead.