Flavour it up with parsley

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Parsley is a herb which is hardly used in traditional Indian cuisine. But now it is used in a number of dishes to good effect.

The flavour of parsley had always intrigued me and I wanted to find out more about this herb. As I tried to find out about its origins I found that it was held sacred by Ancient Greeks. They use it not only to adorn victors of athletic contests but also to decorate the tombs of the deceased.

It was used to flavour and garnish food as far back as the third century B.C. Apparently, the name 'parsley' comes from the Greek word ‘petros’, which means 'stone,' because the plant was often found growing among rocks. Parsley was brought to the New World by the colonists.

Some facts about parsley

Parsley was vastly used in the Mediterranean region and was known to the ancient Greeks. They considered it too sacred to eat. But Romans did use it as a garnish and to improve the taste of food. They also believed it had special powers and would keep them sober.

Parsley belongs to the same family as dill, caraway, fennel, angelica, lovage, cilantro, carrot, parsnip, celery and coriander. All have hollow stems and flowers in a flat-topped cluster called an umbel. In other words the flower is umbrella shaped. It is indigenous to Sardinia, Turkey, Algeria and Lebanon where it grows wild. 

Medicinal properties 

That parsley is good for our health cannot be denied. It is good for the lungs, stomach, bladder and liver. All parts of the plant can be used. The roots contain essential oils and mucilage; the seeds are especially strong in essential oils and terpenes, the leaves contain lesser amounts of essential oils as well as lots of vitamin A and C (more vitamin C than oranges) and also lots of chlorophyll, which is a great antiseptic and can be used in a poultice to ease the pain of small cuts and bites. Chlorophyll is also a great breath freshener. They are also full of minerals, iron, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin.

Other qualities of parsley

There are quite a few varieties of parsley available. Flat parsley has the best flavour but the curly parsley is also good. Both can be grown in your home garden. 

There is also another variety of parsley that is grown for its root rather than its leaf. It goes by the name Hamburg Parsley. The root is similar in flavour to the leaf and can be used to flavour soups and stews. It can also be used raw in salads.

Needless to say that it is best to use fresh parsley. But you can also dry it and use when you cannot lay hands on the fresh variety. 

Parsley in the kitchen

Parsley has a light flavour and fresh taste and therefore can be used in anything from soups to sauces to vegetables. In Middle Eastern cuisine, parsley is the one of the main ingredients in dishes such as tabbouleh, a salad using bulgur, mint, parsley and vegetables. It is also the main herb used in stuffing for grape leaves. 

As a garnish, parsley can be chopped and sprinkled in soups, hummus, or mixed with ground meat, such as lamb. 

It is best added during the last few moments of cooking for the best flavour, or sprinkled raw on salads, soups, fish, meat, etc.

More from SanjeevKapoor.com-

Warm Potato Parsley Salad,  Parsley Garlic And Mushrooms On Toast,  Garlic And Parsley Bread

website of the year 2013
website of the year 2014
website of the year 2016
MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.