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Difference between Herbs and Spices

The usage of herbs and spices usually goes hand in hand. What is the difference between herbs and spices?

Kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves
These are common herbs planted in a Malaysian herbs garden:
Kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves and Thai basil.

Herbs is the leaves or stalks of any types of edible plant, which usually have green leaves and soft stalks. Examples of herbs are: mint, bay leaves, basil, oregano and lemon grass. They can be used either fresh or dried. They are normally easy to grow and can be planted right out of small containers on your kitchen window sills.

Local Malaysians normally have curry leaves, pandanus, lemongrass, turmeric and daun kesum in their patch of herb gardens.

Bigger herbs plant include kaffir lime, ginger, gelangal and bunga kantan. Curry leaves plant also can grow big at some suitable places.

Other vegetables leaves which can be eaten like daun kaduk, daun salam, daun kunyit (turmeric leaves), ulam raja, cashew shoots and tapioca shoots are called "ulam".

Ulam are rich in fibre and mostly green in color, hence, rich in folate and have many beneficial features such as anti-ageing properties and also enzymes to reduce the level of blood pressure, lessen diabetes problems and increase the nutrition in your body. Spices, on the other hand, come from:

  • Barks (like cinnamon)
  • Fruits (like chilies, black pepper)
  • Flowers (like cloves, star anise)
  • Seeds (like nutmeg, mustard)
  • Bulbs (like garlic)
  • Roots(like ginger)
  • Parts of flowers (like saffron)

They are usually sold dried, used either whole or in parts or grounded into powder. Spices are suitable for planting in certain parts of the world only. Usually, tropical islands with hilly terrains are suitable for growing them. Penang used to be the main grower of nutmeg and cloves in the world back in the 18th century.

Now, Penang is one of the world players in I.C chip manufacturing! Agriculture takes the back seat. However, there are still some wonderful places you can viist to relive the bygone era, like the Tropical Spice Garden.

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