When I think of Polish cooking three popular herbs which always spring to mind are caraway, dill and parsley.
They all belong to the Apiaceae family which includes carrot and celery.
This family is also calledUmbelliferae (from the Latin – umbella – for parasol or sunshade) – the flower heads consists of umbels which have equal length flower stalks coming from a central point which forms a flattened head – rather like an umberella.
Carum carvi is caraway – kminek – in Polish.
It is native to Europe, North Africa & Western Asia.
Caraway fruits are often called seeds.
Caraway is thought to be an aid to digestion.
In 2011 Finland supplied over 25% of the world’s caraway.
Capparis spinosa isthe caper bush. The plant is best known for the edible, unripened flower buds – capers – kapary (in Polish) which areoften used as a seasoning and are usually pickled in brine, vinegar or wine.
These perennial plants are native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. Their use dates back to around 2,000 BC where they are mentioned as a food in Sumerian literature.
The caper buds are picked by hand which can make the cost of a small jar expensive.
Pickled nasturtium (Tropaeolum maius) (nasturcja in Polish) seeds – often called poor man’s capers are a good substitute.
Cooking With Capers
Capers have long been used in the Mediterranean region especially in Italian cooking.
Capers are usually added to the dish toward the end of the cooking process, to keep their shape and flavour.
Sos kaparowy – Caper sauce
This is very popular in Poland and is made with chopped capers and mayonnaise and is served with hard-boiled eggs.