Next to Aji (hot peppers) aromatic herbs play a fundamental part in the Peruvian cuisine. While the Peruvian cooking and ingredients vary regionally always they incorporate lots of herbs into the dishes. Probably the most used aromatic herbs are Cilantro, Huacatay, Oregano and Basil, but there are many more that are essential for special traditional Peruvian dishes. And they use lots of herbs in Peru's natural medicine that are worth a try.
Huacatay (Tagetes minuta), next to other local names also known as Wacatay and Peruvian black mint as well as wild, mint, or southern marigold, is an aromatic herb native to Peru used as a seasoning in cooking as well as for medicinal purposes.
Hierba Buena (translated meaning “good herb”), also known in Peru as yerbabuena or hierbabuena, refers to various related mint species, which vary from region to region. While it has its uses in the Peruvian cuisine, Hierba Buena is essential in any Peruvian home for its medicinal properties.
Basil, or albahaca in Spanish, is probably most associated with the Italian and Asian cuisine. Native to the tropical regions of southeastern Asia and central Africa, the culinary herb of the Lamiaceae family (mints) came to Peru with Chinese immigrants and found its place here thanks to the unique fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cooking.
Although Oregano isn't originally from Latin America and almost exclusively associated with the Mediterranean cuisine, it plays a major role in Peruvian cooking. The fresh and dried leaves are used as condiment in various local dishes.
Paico is an aromatic and medicinal herb used already in pre-Columbian times by indigenous communities in Peru. Paico is an essential ingredient in Pachamanca. The leaves are also consumed similar to vegetables in soups, the seeds are used as seasoning in beans dishes.
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