We often hear the phrase “fragrances and flavours of Dalmatia”, and the large number of aromatic and medicinal herbs growing on Dalmatian slopes, during a record number of sunny days a year, truly do attest to the fact that it is not just a mere phrase or marketing fabrication. That and rare rainfall, as well as dry, rocky land, gives them the rich, strong and striking fragrance, flavour and healing powers.
We at the Pašike restaurant also live in harmony with nature and our surroundings, so it is something we have adapted our gastronomic offer to, complementing it with other spices traditionally already rooted in Dalmatian cuisine, but which originally do not belong to this region, such as pepper, nutmegs or cloves. The dishes made by our chef nonna Franka, carry all the fullness of flavour and fragrance of the indigenous Dalmatian herbs.
We have prepared a small guide for you to get acquainted with Dalmatian aromatic and medicinal herbs.
Basil (lat. Ocimum basilicum) from the Greek basileus – a royal aromatic plant from a family of mints. Because of its sweet and pleasant fragrance, it is one of the most popular spices used in many sophisticated cuisines of the world, especially in the Mediterranean. It is used in the preparation of vegetable soups, sauces, pasta, in preparation of simpler meat dishes, poultry, fish and seafood, and as a spice in salad sauces. Basil is also a complementary ingredient in various teas. It has an antibacterial, soothing effect and is used to relieve digestion problems, cramps and pains.
Rosemary (lat. Rosmarinus officinalis) is a plant whose name is derived from the Latin ros (dew) and marinus (sea), or in other words ”dew of the sea”, which means that the breeze from the sea bringing in the moisture is very favourable for its growth. For more than a thousand years, it has been recognized as a spice and a natural remedy. Rosemary is widely used in South-European and Mediterranean cuisine. It is a great spice for soups, stewed vegetables, meat, all kinds of roasts and soft cheeses. Its use as a spice, especially in fattier foods and heavier sauces, alongside olive oil and fish, speaks volumes about the wise observation that it has a favourable effect on the functioning of the bile.
Oregano (lat. Origanum vulgare) or wild marjoram is an aromatic and medicinal herb of the mint family. The name stems from the Greek (oros – mountainl, ganos – joy), and via Italian language, “oregano” – mountain joy. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean, and indispensable in the Mediterranean cuisine. It is known as an indispensable spice in pizza making. It’s a good addition to omelettes, sauces, tomato-based dishes, lamb or vegetable dishes.
4. Laurel leaf
Laurel (lat. Laurus nobilis) is a plant from the laurel family, an evergreen tree or a shrub with dark-green, coarse, tattered leaves. Since ancient times, laurel has been highly regarded as a sacred tree whose branches were bestowed upon winners and poets as a symbol of greatest honour and glory. Today, laurel is used in horticulture as a tree or as a formally shaped hedge, and as a spice in gastronomy, as well as a medicinal plant in traditional medicine. The healing substance are the essential oils made from berries and leaves.
Thyme (lat. Thymus serpyllum) is a perennial, about 30 cm tall, bushy plant. It has a very spicy, slightly bitter taste. In Mediterranean cuisine, it is used as a spice, and it is added to vegetables, various meat dishes, pâtés, fish, salads, sauces and soups. It is supposed to neutralize very fatty foods. The leaves of the plant can be used throughout the year to prepare teas and drinks. Thyme is also known in herbal medicine as a medicinal herb and is used to prepare herbal remedies, as confirmed by contemporary science.
Sage (lat. salvia) is derived from the word salvare, which means to save, to cure, because the ancient Romans used it to treat various diseases. In the English language, the name of the plant is sage, which means wisdom, and it was also used to stimulate concentration, increase memory, and is considered to contribute to longevity. Sage, used as a spice in pasta, roasted innards and fattier dishes, is an indispensable and important ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.
Mentha (lat. Mentha) is the genus of flowering plants with about thirty different species from the family of mints. It is a perennial herbaceous plant with a height of 30 to 80 cm, with an upright branched stalk. It has a pleasant and very aromatic fragrance. Traditionally, it is known as one of the medicinal herbs suitable for tea preparation, but also as a spice for various dishes, especially meat and game dishes. It has a pleasant menthol smell, hence the name of mentha.
Fennel (lat. foeniculum) is a herb from the apiaceae plant family. Its name comes from the Latin foenum – hay, due to its narrow leaf apex that appears to look like hay when dried. It is a nectar bearing plant, and all its parts are aromatic and sweet. It originates in the Mediterranean. Fennel was highly appreciated for its flavour similar to anise, as well as for its healing properties. All parts of the fennel, the plant, bulbs, stems and leaves are used in meal preparation. It is best to serve it fresh. There are many interesting combinations of fennel with vegetables and fruits in various mixed and complex salads.
Lavender (lat. Lavandula angustifolia) grows as a shrub up to 1.2 meters in height and about 1 meter in width. It grows in the Mediterranean region, south to tropical Africa and southeast of India. Lavender is mostly used for the production of lavender oil used as an antiseptic and in aromatherapy. Leafs and petals are used fresh as an addition to salads, soups and cooked meals. The flowers can be crystallized with sugar and added to marmalades, ice cream and as an aromatic additive to salad vinegar.
Juniper (lat. Juniperus communis) grows as a branchy bush 1 – 2 m tall, or a tree which grows up to 12 m high. It matures into a highly medicinal bush. Its fruit is a black, blue powder covered berry, which ripens in its second year of growth, in autumn. All parts of juniper have a nice aromatic fragrance. The fruits have a bitter-sweet taste, and the needle-like leaves are bitter and resinous. As a spice, it is used in European cuisine, especially in the cuisine of the Alpine region countries. It is used to add flavour to savoury cabbage and meat dishes, especially game. It combines well with pepper, marjoram and laurel, but also with fruit.
Visit us and take away all the fragrances and flavours of the Dalmatian aromatic herbs with you!