Coriander also known as Chinese parsley and as cilantro in America, or dhania, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae (parsley family). It is a member of the carrot and parsley family. It is soft plant that grows 50cm tall with divided foliage and small white flowers. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the centre of the umbel longer (5–6 mm) than those pointing toward it (only 1–3 mm long). The fruit is a globular, dry schizocarp 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) in diameter. Although sometimes eaten alone, the seeds often are used as a spice or an added ingredient in other foods.
It is a native of southern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean (Greece), North Africa and South-West Asia. All parts of the plant are edible but its pungent smell may make it unsuitable for growing indoors. The lobed lower leaves are used in chutneys, curries and sauces and the spicy-flavoured seeds are used baking, chutneys and meats. Plants are liable to bolt in summer, producing less leaf and seeds. Coriander self seeds and germinates easily, so when planted, it can be left alone for some time, new plants replacing the old plants.
Like many herbs from the Mediterranean region, coriander will grow in light soils in full sun and with occasional watering. A small number of plants in the corner of the garden will provide most needs and the self seeded plants will appear later in the season or the following year. Because of their susceptibility to bolting, plant seeds in final growing position after the danger of frost is past. Grow from seed in spring with successive sowing throughout the summer. Sow seed directly into well cultivated soil or into containers. You will be able to harvest in 4 weeks. Young leaves can be picked for use fresh or they can be deep frozen. Harvest leaves frequently to encourage new growth. The seed heads can be gathered and used as they ripen, can be frozen or dried.
The term culantro, properly meaning long coriander, is sometimes misapplied to coriander leaves, especially in regions where long coriander is not known. The coriander grown in Russia and Central Europe (var. microcarpum) has smaller fruits (less than 3 mm) and contains more essential oil than the oriental variety var. vulgare (greater than 3 mm), which is cultivated for fruits and leaves.Other herbs are used where they grow in much the same way as coriander leaves:
Eryngium foetidum has a similar, but more intense, taste. It is known as culantro, and is found in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean.
Persicaria odorata is commonly called Vietnamese coriander, or rau răm. The leaves have a similar odour and flavour to coriander. It is a member of the Polygonaceae, or buckwheat family.
Papaloquelite is one common name for Porophyllum ruderale subsp. macrocephalum, a member of the Compositae or Asteraceae, the sunflower family. This species is found growing wild from Texas to Argentina.
The names of coriander in all Western European languages can be traced back to Latin coriandrum and Greek koriannon [κορίαννον]. The German names Wanzendill (bug’s dill) and Wanzenkümmel (bug’s caraway); bug, because of the aroma of the leaves. In the USA, coriander leaves are commonly known by the name cilantro. This word has the same origin as coriander, and it is difficult to explain the differing vowel. Maybe cilantro is directly derived from a Latin variant with light vowel, e. g., Medieval Latin celiandrum. Another explanation claims that the Spanish name was first culantro, later changed to cilantro for some reason; in any case, culantro exists in today’s Mesoamerican Spanish, but usually denotes not coriander but a similar smelling herb, long coriander. Confusingly, on some Caribbean islands, long coriander is known as cilantro and coriander as cilantrillo. Because of similar shape and usage, coriander leaves are named after parsley, often with a geographic epithet: Indian parsley and Chinese parsley are most often heard. The Hungarian name cigánypetrezselyem gypsies’ parsley, due to it being able to possibly grow fast and in short periods and easy to use more frequently other than parsley the plant itself takes far longer and not so fast.
Flavour & Aroma
Fruits and leaves possess a totally different flavour; most people enjoy the freshness and tanginess with a slight citrusy note of the leaves whilst others comment it is rather soapy and displeasing. Thus can therefore not substitute each other. The fruits’ aroma is pleasant, warm, nutty and spicy.Drying destroys most of the leaves’ fragrance. In toasted coriander fruits, pyrazines are formed as the main flavour compounds and is a wonderful spice to be enjoyed. Similar compounds occur in a few other spices and herbs, all of which share coriander’s flavour: Examples include long coriander, Vietnamese coriander and the Japanese chemotype of chameleon plant.
Health Benefits of Coriander
In the ripe fruits, the content of essential oil is comparably low less than 1%; the oil consists mainly of linalool up to 60% and about 20% terpenes (pinenes, γ-terpinene, myrcene, camphene, phellandrenes, α-terpinene, limonene, cymene).
The taste of the fresh herb is due to an essential oil (0.1%) that is almost entirely made up of aliphatic aldehydes with 10-16 carbon atoms. One finds both saturated (decanal) and α,β unsaturated (trans-2-tridecenal) aldehydes; the same aldehydes appear in the unripe fruits.
Coriander essential oil has properties of being analgesic, a stimulant-Stimulates digestion, anti-bacterial, anti-infectious and sedating. It mixes well with other essential oils such as fennel, grapefruit, mandarin, ginger and other spice and citrus oils.
Coriander is a nutritious herb rich in calcium, phosphorous, beta carotene and vitamin C. It has an unusual, very strong taste when fresh, and both the leaves and roots are commonly used. The seeds are wonderful and used whole or ground as a spice for an array of wonderful dishes.
Whole coriander is soaked overnight in water and drunk whole, without chewing to loose weight.
Coriander is also know to remove heavy metals from the body such as amalgam.
This plant is used in cases of Metal toxicity, such as mercury amalgam, immune disorders, premature ageing, cardiovascular disease, allergies, Alzheimer’s, gastrointestinal disorders, psychological disorders, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue, endocrine disorders and gingivitis.
Buying & Storing Coriander
One can buy the seeds almost anywhere and most green grocers do stock it. If you are unable to find it fresh; grow fresh from the seed and you will never run out. One can store the dried seed in sealed airtight containers in a dark cool place. The fresh leaves once harvested and kept refrigerated will last only for a few days. Can be freshly frozen in ice trays and used when needed. Many blend fresh batches of coriander leaves in a blender along with olive oil and make a coriander pesto which either seasoned and then sealed in a jar or container and kept refrigerated or otherwise frozen in good seal-able freezer bags.Coriander roots have a deeper, more intense flavour than the leaves. They are used in a variety of Asian cuisines. They are commonly used in Thai dishes, including soups and curry pastes. These can be pickled and preserved as well as frozen.
Ideas For Cooking With Coriander
- The seeds are used whole or ground for cooking with and the fresh leaves are used as a garnish for a lot of dishes from curries to even sauces.
- Coriander is wonderful as a garnish and really used the same way as parsley would be used in most cuisines.
- The spice is great for Christmas cookies, especially biscuits.
- Whole spice is used for pickling (with bay leaves, pimento, onion, cloves).
- Red Cabbage goes wonderfully with coriander used fresh or as a spice.
- Beetroot and vegetables such as pickled beetroot (with onions, cumin, fresh ginger or horseradish), its delicious.
- The spice is used in many sausages and pie’s.
- Great used fresh as a garnish and cooked with fish, such as Hake Coriander Coconut Curry.
- Use leaves as a garnish for lamb dishes (with onions, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, pepper) and the seeds are also used as a spice.
- In India, coriander seed belongs to the most curries, as coriander is an essential part of curry powder and is contained in most Indian spice blends, e. g. North Indian-garam masala.
- Arabic cooking makes much use of coriander fruits, which are contained in a number of Oriental spice blends, like Moroccan ras al-hanout and baharat from the Gulf states; they are also part of Ethiopian berbere.
- Coriander leaves, however, are a rare ingredient in the cooking of Western Asia; the main example is Zhoug a spicy paste typical for Yemeni cookery, which sometimes also contains coriander fruits. The key ingredients are green chillies, garlic, cardamom and black pepper. Further, optional ingredients are cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. Zhoug may be used as a relish, bread dip or condiment. A version of zhoug prepared with red chillies is known as shatta, which is also an Arabic name of red chillies.
- Fresh coriander leaves are used similarly as in India and Mexico, such as parsley.
- Coriander is eaten almost exclusively during the Christmas season.
- In India and part of the East as well as in Latin American cuisine includes coriander seeds and especially the fresh leaves which are often consumed and used in daily cuisine.
- The leaves look like parsley and are used the same way as you would use parsley .To those who want to cook authentic Mexican for an example must get used to the taste. The use of coriander leaves is very frequent in Latin America, especially Mexico (e. g., in salsa, or ceviche). Another famous Mexican food relying on coriander leaves is guacamole, a spicy coarse mash from avocado pears and spices along with lime juice. For the heat, Mexicans most often use the green jalapeño or the slightly hotter Serrano chillies.
- Coriander leaves are most often used raw; cooking or even short frying tends to diminish their fragrance. As always, there are exceptions to that rule: In some Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in huge amounts and long-cooked till they dissolve and their flavour mellows.