I dedicate this post to my friend Nina and her favorite cilantro- coriander.
Coriander is probably native to the Middle East and southern Europe, but has also been known in Asia and the Orient for millennia. It is found wild in Egypt and the Sudan, and sometimes in English fields. Coriander is the seed of a small plant. The seeds are almost spherical, one end being slightly pointed, the other slightly flattened. There are many longitudinal ridges. The length of the seed is 3 – 5 mm (1/8” – 3/16”) and the color, when dried, is usually brown, but may be green or off white. The seed is generally sold dried and in this state is apt to split into halves to reveal two partially hollow hemispheres and occasionally some internal powdery matter. Coriander is available both whole and ground. The fresh leaves of the plant are called cilantro and are used as an herb.
Seeds are sweet and aromatic when ripe. Unripe seeds are said to have an offensive smell. The leaves have a distinctive fragrance.
The seeds are warm, mild and sweetish. There is a citrus undertone similar to orange peel. The leaves combine well with many pungent dishes from India, Mexico and the Middle East. The commonest use of coriander seed is in curry powders, where it is the bulkiest constituent, often rough ground in India to give a crunchy texture. The seeds can be likewise used in stews and soups. They blend well with smoked meats and game and feature in traditional English black pudding recipes and Italian mortadella sausage. Coriander is an ingredient of garam masala, pickling spices and pudding spices and is used in cakes, breads and other baked foods. Coriander is a characteristic of Arab cookery, being common with lamb, kid and meat stuffings. Coriander with cumin is a common combination and features in falafel. Coriander goes well with ham and pork, it enhances fish dishes and, with other spices, may form a delicious coating for spiced fish or chicken, rubbed into the scored flesh and grilled. Coriander complements chili and is included in many chili recipes, such as harissa, the hot North African red pepper sauce. The leaves are always used fresh. They feature in Spanish, Middle Eastern, Indian, Oriental and South American cookery. They are sprinkled like parsley on cooked dishes, minced or puréed in sauces, soups and curries, especially bhuna. Both seeds and leaves can be used in salads, and in guacamole sauce.
It is generally beneficial to the nervous system. Its main use is in masking foul medicines, especially purgatives, where it has anti-griping qualities.. In Asia the herb is used against piles, headache and swellings; the fruit in colic, piles and conjunctivitis; the essential oil in colic, rheumatism and neuralgia; the seeds as a paste for mouth ulceration and a poultice for other ulcers. Recent studies have supported its use as a stomach soother for both adults and colicky babies. Coriander contains an antioxidant that helps prevent animal fats from turning rancid. It also contains substances that kill meat-spoiling bacteria and fungi. These same substances in Cilantro also prevent infection in wounds. Coriander has been shown to improve tummy troubles of all kinds, from indigestion to flatulence to diarrhea. Weak coriander tea may be given to children under age 2 for colic. It’s safe for infants and may relieve their pain and help you get some much-needed sleep. Cilantro and Coriander contain substances that kill certain bacteria and fungi, thereby preventing infections from developing in wounds. Sprinkle some coriander seed on minor cuts and scrapes after thoroughly washing the injured area with soap and water. Intriguing new studies suggest that coriander has anti-inflammatory effects. Since the pain of arthritis is cause by inflammation coriander oil may help you.