Kaffir lime leaves are often marketed as “Makrut lime leaves” in order to avoid the racist connotations of the word “Kaffir.” The lime tree that produces the leaves has its origins in Southern Asia. The origins of the name are somewhat more complex. A British reference text written in 1888 explains how it came about: Indian Muslims used the Arabic word “kafara” to describe products that originated in Southern Asia. The word “kaffir” comes from kafara, which means infidel. The plant kept its name when it made its way to Africa where the word was already in use as a racial slur. The use of kaffir as a slur came from Arab slavers who used it for their African slaves. The word was adopted by white South Africans and would go on to become widely used in South Africa as the Afrikaner equivalent of the “n-word.”
The history of basil goes all the way back to the ancient Greece where it was a symbol of mourning. It was also an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine.
Chicory is considered a winter lettuce. It is a member of the dandelion family and is sometimes foraged. It comes in many forms, some of which are loose-leafed; others are brightly colored and range from white to yellow, and green. It has a texture and flavor that complements other salad greens. Chicory leaves work well with other ingredients as well; you can serve chicory with cheeses, ham or even smoked salmon.
Many people consider chicory leaves bitter. Young chicory leaves may be eaten in salads while the more mature ones are often served cooked. Cooking can mute the bitterness.
The root of the chicory plant can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute or additive. It can also be cooked and eaten.
Chicory is best when it is harvested in the fall and winter, which means that you may have to use a substitute if you plan to use it at other times of year. The good news is that there are many alternatives to chicory, both for the leaves and root.
Both flax seeds and chia seeds are nutrient dense oilseeds. Both have become popular in recent years with flax seeds being the more widely known of the two. Both are excellent additions to your diet. Each of them can provide you with a range of health benefits. If you want to pick one and are unable to make up your mind, consider the comparison below in another SPICEography Showdown.
The Aztecs were using chia seeds as far back as 3500 BC. The seeds were considered a staple of the Aztec diet during the pre-Columbian era. Chia seeds were used as both medicine and food. Historians consider chia one of the five main crops of the Aztecs. It was the third most important after corn and beans. Chia seeds were so important the Aztecs would often pay their taxes with them.
The use of chia seeds would decline with the arrival of Spanish colonists in the 1500s. They would suppress their use along with that of other indigenous foods. Chia seeds were suppressed because of their association with religion and other aspects of Aztec culture. Because of the suppression, chia seeds fell into obscurity for 500 years.
Early in the 1990s, chia would see a resurgence. Their renewed popularity came from North and South American scientists working to produce chia and other lost Aztec nutritional plants.
Today, chia seeds are produced by various Latin American countries including Mexico and Guatemala.
Flax was first cultivated on a large scale between 4,000 and 2000 BC in the areas around the Mediterranean. At the same time, flax was also being cultivated in certain parts of the Middle East . The first attempts to grow flax may have begun much earlier during the Neolithic era.
From the start, farmers grew flax both for food and for its fibers. The fibers are useful for making linen. Manufacturers use linen to make clothing and other textile products.
European colonists brought flax to the United States and cultivated it to provide fiber for clothing. Flax was in use all the way up to the 1990s for both linen and paper production. Food grade flax seed oil is still used as a nutritional supplement and in animal feed.
Most of the world’s supply of oilseed flax comes from Canada. The rest comes from other leading producers like Russia and Argentina.
Chives are a narrow-leaved member of the onion family. They are versatile and have a milder flavor than other types of onion. They are popular for garnishing dishes, as their flavor does not hold up well to cooking.
Having chives around is a good idea if you like to cook French dishes or simply need a flavorful addition to your salad or to your cream cheese. If you have run out and need a quick substitute, chives are among the easier herbs to replace. Several common chive alternatives can add a similar flavor to your dish.
Curry leaves are from the subtropical sweet neem (Murraya koenigii) tree. The sweet neem tree is native to the foothills of the Himalayas. The Tamil name for curry leaves literally translates to “leaf used to make curry.”
The usage of curry leaves in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking stretches all the way back into the region’s ancient history. They are primarily used in the regions that have had Indian influences on their culture. For example, immigrants to South Africa and Malaysia carried curry leaves with them to those places.
British merchants invented curry powder in the late 18th century. The blend of spices was intended to mimic the taste of authentic Indian curries. Some curry powder blends contain dried curry leaves. It is unlikely that the leaves have much influence on the flavor of curry powder since they lose their flavor soon after being dried.