Create New Delicious Flavors With AromaticsBy Cordialis Msora-Kasago
Published: April 12, 2016
Garlic, ginger, onions and chilli peppers are staples of almost every Nigerian kitchen. Also known as aromatics, these kitchen must-haves not only add flavor to foods but also impart health benefits such as improving digestion, reducing nausea and fighting heart disease.
What is an Aromatic?
An aromatic is any vegetable used to create a flavor base through sweating or sautéing. If you are looking to expand the flavor profile of the dishes you cook, here are a few aromatics you should try.
High in fiber, vitamin C and potassium, carrots get nutrition kudos for their high beta carotene content. Amongst other benefits, this nutrient, often lacking in African diets improves vision, especially at night.
Interesting fact: A few centuries ago, carrots were purple in color? The orange carrot is believed to have mutated from this purple variety. The purple (also known as Black Knight) carrot is making a come back and today in North America, one can purchase a pack of rainbow carrots which not only includes orange and purple carrots but also white, red and yellow types.
Get adventurous and use all varieties of carrots to eat the rainbow.
Often enjoyed raw with peanut butter, this vegetable is touted as a powerful agent in reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. In addition, celery contains significant amounts of vitamins A, C and K , potassium and quercetin, an antioxidant that protects the heart.
To glean as much nutrition from celery, chop it immediately before using.
Sweet and not hot! Bell peppers add a blast of color to dishes and are high in immune boosting vitamin C. Further enhance the flavor of the peppers by roasting them prior to adding them to your pot or simply roast and puree them for a creamy, flavorful base for marinades, soups and sauces. Yum!
The riper the bell pepper, the higher the vitamin C content so choose firm, bright peppers that feel heavy for their size.
Aromatics are not just for cooked foods, they certainly can fit in raw dishes too. Scallions (green/spring onions) which are high in fiber, potassium and vitamin A, can be enjoyed raw sprinkled as an edible garnish for rice, pasta, egg dishes as well as grilled meats. Don’t like them raw? Cook them! They still impart healthy doses of nutrients.
Grow you own scallions on your kitchen counter by placing a bulb in a cup of water and literally watching it grow. Talk about farm to table!
Probably one of the least utilized aromatic, a few sliced leaks go a long way in adding flavor to your soups and pasta dishes. High in vitamins A and C, folate and manganese, leeks contain inulin, a type of fiber that acts as a probiotic thereby supporting a healthy digestive system.
Preserve the shelf life of your leeks by wrapping them in plastic before storing in the refrigerator.
2 Aromatic Bases to get your started
Mirepoix: Commonly used in French cooking and great for enhancing the flavor of stews. Sauté 2 parts chopped onion to 1 part celery and 1 part carrots.
Holy Trinity: Popular in Cajun/Creole cooking, the Holy trinity is an amazing way to flavor rice dishes and stews. Sauté 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part bell pepper. We dare you to transform the way you make Jollof!
Here’s to your health!
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