Rosemary – this time the aromatic herb!

As I have had a few questions from people about this herb, I thought it is a good time to write a blog entry about it, it’s significance, it’s uses in cooking and how to incorporate this herb with Indian spices.

Rosemary is an evergreen perennial shrub of the mint family and is a native to the Mediterranean region. It has needle like leaves with a strong woody aroma and when you pick it up fresh from the bush, your fingertips are left with a characteristic scent that lingers for quite some time. I have a bush at home that yields tiny beautiful blue/purple flowers, but I have also seen Rosemary plants that have white and pink flowers in my neighbourhood. Rosemary produces essential oils that is used in making perfume.

How did this herb get to be called as Rosemary?

Legend says that the Virgin Mary, spread her cloak over a white blossomed rosemary bush while resting and the flowers turned blue, the colour of her cloak. From then on, the bush came to be called as the “Rose of Mary”.

According to the meaning of flowers, rosemary signifies remembrance and love. The Greek scholars wore rosemary sprigs in their hair to remember their studies, as in ancient times rosemary was supposed to strengthen memory. This significance is carried through modern times as you will see from the following paragraph.

When I arrived in Australia, I was very curious to know why many people at the local clubs, news readers, reporters, the local parishioners and my colleagues wore small sprigs of rosemary on them on ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) which falls on 25 April. On doing some research, I found out that rosemary is an emblem of remembrance and the wearing of small sprigs of rosemary in the coat lapel, pinned to the breast or held in place by medals is to commemorate and remember the soldiers who served and sacrificed their lives in service of their country, in all wars. From then on, 25 April holds a significant place to me and my family. ANZAC Day is the day Australia commemorates with services and marches in cities and towns and throughout the world where servicemen, servicewomen and peacemakers are stationed. When my son was in school, we have attended a few of these marches in Sydney as a mark of respect and remembrance.

How can you use Rosemary to enhance flavour of Indian food?

Whilst at my green grocer, I had seen this herb along with other herbs such as thyme, basil, oregano, dill, sage and parsley (all foreign to me as I had never heard of any of these herbs except dill which we used to refer as ‘shepu baji’ in India).

For some years, I did not know how to incorporate these herbs into my cooking and hence never used them. One day we were invited to a dinner party at one of my Australian friend’s house and we ate some mouth melting lamb roast. The flavour of rosemary mingled so beautifully with lamb and I could not resist asking why the lamb was full of flavour and the host replied, “I use Rosemary sprigs” and that was all I needed to hear. He further explained that he simply made shallow slits into the meat and inserted sprigs of rosemary and garlic around the lamb and roasted the lamb in the oven. Walla! I have followed his instructions and roasted lamb with these basic ingredients. The result is a special winter weekend night happy lamb roast meal with my family. Serve with fresh mint sauce and it perfectly complements roast lamb.

I came home and, in a few weeks, bought a plant and planted it in my garden. I chose a sunny spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily and planted in a well-drained soil. The plant grew and now I have ample supply of this condiment at my fingertips throughout the year.

I tried roasting lamb after a few weeks and really fell in love with this herb. Now it’s a constant companion in my pastas, lamb roasts, chicken and soups and my husband, combines it perfectly with his fish, lamb cutlets and roast potatoes. I have also bought breads with rosemary and eaten desserts that have rosemary incorporated into them. The uses are endless as this is a very versatile herb.

Now, how do I use it with my pastas?

There is always one type of dried pasta in my pantry and I make pasta at least once in two weeks be it fettuccine, penne, spaghetti or pappardelle. The sauce I make can be served on any of the above pastas. There are many pasta sauces I make, but for now I will focus only on an easy to follow and yet delicious tomato-based sauce in which I use rosemary to flavour the pasta with some basic pantry spices and would make a perfect dinner for two to four people with a salad on the side. It’s my go to pasta sauce recipe that you would want to cook time and time again.

It is possible many of you already know how to prepare this pasta sauce, but I have written this for those of you who are keen to introduce this most flavourful herb with some Indian spices.

Rosemary marries well with cumin powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, mustard powder, ginger, garlic and onions. Some of you who have already purchased a copy of my book would have by now tried my Pumpkin Soup, Fish Bake and Grilled Lamb Cutlets. It is a flavoursome herb and worth introducing into your cooking for a delicious change. A word-of-caution begin with using only two tablespoon chopped rosemary leaves into your sauce and gradually increase as you get used to the aroma and taste of this herb. Remember you are just introducing the herb into your cooking!

How to store rosemary in the fridge?

I place my rosemary on my kitchen benchtop in a small glass of water. It stays fresh for a couple of weeks easily.

It stays fresh up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Wrap the rosemary sprigs in a slightly damp paper towel and place it in a zip lock bag. You can wrap them in foil and place them in the freezer and they should stay fresh for a week. Throw away if they turn brown as they lose their flavour once they are brown.

Stay tuned for a delicious pasta sauce recipe with rosemary to come to Deliciously Indian soon.

Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

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