Lavender is a plant that belongs to the mint family. The deep blue-purple color of lavender has many uses, both culinary as well as non-culinary. This plant is widely grown in the Mediterranean region, Southern Europe, North and East Africa, Canary Islands, West Asia, Arabia, Iran, and South East India. Lavender dishes are considered gourmet by many people. In fact, many baked foods, especially the ones which use chocolate are complimented with the essence of lavender. It is only in recent times that many chefs have started culinary usage of leaves of lavender.
History of Lavender and Lavender Dishes
Lavender herb is known to have been in use over 2500 years ago. This herb is believed to have originated in Asia, but with a wider spread in the west today. Lavender was also known as ‘nara’ by the ancient Greeks as it was named after the Syrian city called “Naarda”. This highly perfumed flower was also used in the biblical temple for preparing the holy essence. The flowers of lavender were used by the Romans for flavoring their baths and also to help restore the skin. Records show that this herb came from Greece to France and then to other European countries. It is only in recent years that foods are flavored by the essence of lavender.
Culinary Uses of Lavender
Lavender is used as an essence to flavor many lavender based dishes such as –
- Cakes and baked foods that have a chocolate coating
- Grilled foods where the lavender stems are used for smoking
- As a substitute for rosemary
- Lavender butters that are made with different bases such as garlic butter, herb butter and honey butter
- Lavender sugars that can be used in scones and toasts
Popular Lavender Dishes
Lavender is one herb that not only has a strong color, but also a strong flavor. There are many lavender recipes that are popular with people. Here are a few popular lavender dishes –
- Lavender Coffee Cake – This delicious cake is not only eaten at breakfast but also as a snack and dessert.
- Lavender Scones – This popular American dish is naturally loved by young and old alike. They are usually served as dessert.
- Au Gratin Potatoes – This popular French dish is made with garden fresh potatoes flavored with lavender.
- Lavender Flavored Oatmeal – For people who do not like the taste of oatmeal, can easily take a liking to lavender flavored oatmeal dish, which is cooked just like regular oatmeal.
- Sweet Potato Crisps with Lavender Aioli – This is like any other crisp, albeit flavored with lavender.
- Other popular lavender dishes are lavender flavored biscuits, vegetable lavender scrambled eggs, toasted cheese sandwich, shortbread, sugar cookies, lavender broccoli corn bread, etc.
Non-Culinary Uses of Lavender
Lavender oil is prepared from the dry flowers of the plant. These essences are available in various forms such as aromatherapy oil, in soaps, lotions, infusions, as whole dried flowers that are used as room fresheners, in teas and tinctures. Lavender essence is also used in bath gels and extracts that are used in skin care products and as coloring agent.
Lavender Dishes: Trivia
Lavender should be avoided by pregnant and breast feeding women. Despite its popularity, lavender needs to be used in moderation and if required under supervision, more so if it is being given to kids in some form, because some people tend to develop an allergy to lavender.