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Always wanted to try growing herbs indoors? You don’t have to be good at gardening to give it a go. There are many indoor herbs that are not only easy to grow but also make a great addition to the dishes you whip up at home or perhaps in serviced apartments when abroad.
If you lack green thumbs, fret not. A number of these herbs can also be found in herb gardens of select Frasers Hospitality properties such as Fraser Suites Singapore, Fraser Residence Orchard, Singapore and Modena by Fraser Bangkok.
When you’re ready, just grab a container or pot, some good potting soil and find a sunny spot in your home to grow these 7 indoor herbs for cooking.
While basil is easily found across the world, it may surprise you that this global herb is actually native to tropical regions like Southeast Asia, India and central Africa. And while it thrives best outdoors, keeping the plant indoors with access to plenty of light—sunlight or even fluorescent light—and away from the cold will ensure a good harvest.
While there are several varieties of basil, sweet basil is most commonly used to add flavour to anything from soups to pesto sauce and cocktails. In Southeast Asia, Thai basil is used more frequently: as a key ingredient in Thai curries; an addition to Vietnamese dishes like pho or even the Chinese dish, San Bei Ji (three-cup chicken).
Basil is a great indoor herb, easily sown from seeds and grows quickly. Alternatively, propagate from an existing plant – simply cut from an unflowered section and roots will begin to form in water within a week. Keep the soil well-drained but moist for best results.
Also use it for: Pizza toppings, salads, infused oils, relish, pasta, jams, mocktails, roasted vegetables, herbal teas
Of the many varieties of chillies, cayenne pepper is one of the most versatile and recognisable source of heat in cuisines all around the world. Best of all, it’s great for health – it has been credited to lower cholesterol, increase metabolism and even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There are countless ways to use the chilli in a variety of cuisines. Fresh or dried chillies can be used whole in Mexican stews, classic American beef chilli, Chinese meat dishes or Indian curries. On the other hand, powdered cayenne is commonly used as a dry rub or marinade for meats, garnish egg dishes and even to spice up Mexican chocolate drinks and desserts.
Like most indoor plants, maintain a moist, well-drained soil along with ample warmth and light for the chillies, avoiding extreme temperatures. They also need to be trimmed every now and then to promote growth.
Also use it for: Chilli powder, chilli oils, fruit juices, stir-frys, tea, pepper vinegar, chocolate bars, pasta, tacos
This fragrant herb is one hardy plant that is easy to care for. As it’s able to withstand both cooler climates and droughts, it will do just fine even with occasional watering.
Rosemary can be used both fresh or dried. Use a few sprigs in chicken or turkey stuffing or toss a few into the pan as you baste steak. Dried leaves work well as a seasoning for roasted vegetables and pasta dishes too. In the garden or indoors, rosemary can also help keep pests away or be burnt as incense for the home.
While seeds are hard to germinate and growth can be slow, its resilient nature enables it to continue thriving for a couple of decades. Just be careful not to overwater, leave it in a sunny spot and trim often.
Also use it for: Roasted meats, fragrances, shampoos, herbal tea, flavoured butter, insect repellent, infused honey, aromatherapy
Did you know the purple globe-like flowers of chives are edible too? Bearing a mild onion flavour, chives are great snipped as a garnish over soups and egg dishes, while the flowers complement salads and omelettes well. If you choose to grow garlic chives, they can also be used as a salt substitute in many soup and stew dishes.
When growing chives indoors, pick a deep container and plant several batches to rotate the harvest. Before reaching full growth, chives will do best with regular watering and partial to full sunlight. Be sure to leave a few inches of leaf blades above the soil when harvesting to allow the plant to regrow.
Also use it for: Mashed potatoes, dips, sauces, sautéed dishes, stews, infused white vinegar
While hard to germinate from seed, lemongrass can be grown easily just by using a cutting from a store-bought stalk. Leaving a bulb in a few inches of water can yield a new stalk in about a month.
Most commonly found in Asian cuisines, the herb adds a zing of lemon flavour and floral aroma to foods. You can try using lemongrass in dishes like roasted chicken, as a satay (skewered meat) marinade or in the ubiquitous Thai tom yum soup. It is also popular for its health benefits, from aromatherapy and oils for headaches to even treating colds and high blood pressure.
For lemongrass to thrive, it is best planted in moist soil and left in full sunlight. Harvesting frequently will encourage new growth in the plant too.
Also use it for: Herbal teas, cocktails, stir-frys, sauces, fragrance, insect repellent
While both spearmint and peppermint are similar in taste, peppermint is best as an indoor plant. With a higher menthol content, you’ll need fewer leaves to achieve the same minty effect as compared to spearmint. Mint grows vigorously, so give it some space by planting in a larger container.
The refreshing taste of mint makes it suitable for sweets and drinks like mojito cocktails and fruit juice blends. The minty flavour also elevates dishes like salads and roast meats and reportedly helps with colds and indigestion.
Mint requires evenly moist soil and a slightly humid environment to thrive. Be sure to rotate your plant in the sun regularly to ensure it grows evenly.
Also use it for: Pesto sauces, pasta dishes, pea soup, fruit salads, tea, aromatherapy
Surprised to see ginger make the list? Depending on how it is used, ginger can be classified as both a herb and a spice. Ginger as a herb would refer to its fleshy root, while the latter is the grounded form of herbs—in this case, ground ginger.
This popular herb is used for many dishes across various cuisines: think Chinese ginger chicken stir-fry, pickled to accompany sushi, stewed in a classic chicken tikka masala, baked into a pumpkin pie and even steeped in water for tea. The rhizome is also reported to alleviate nausea and help with indigestion.
While ginger takes a longer time to mature, starting out is easy. Cut a four to five inch-chunk off an existing root, ensuring the cutting has several buds. Place it just a few inches beneath potting soil and ensure your pot or container drains well—ginger requires a lot of water but waterlogged soil might increase the chances of rotting.
Also use it for: Ginger beers, soups, candied ginger, gingerbread, noodles, rice, juice, alleviating nausea