Coriander

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to 50 centimetres (20 in) tall. 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 center of the umbel longer (5–6 mm) than those pointing towards it (only 1–3 mm long). The fruit is a globular dry schizocarp 3–5 mm diameter. In American culinary usage, the fruits (“seeds”) are generally referred to as coriander, the leaves as cilantro.

Uses

All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most commonly used in cooking. Coriander is common in Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, Mexican, Texan, Latin American, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian cuisine.

Leaves

The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leavesChinese parsleycilantro (in America, from the Spanish for the plant).

It should not be confused with Culantro (Eryngium foetidum L.) which is a close relative to coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) but has a distinctly different appearance, a much more potent volatile leaf oil[6] and a stronger smell.

The leaves have a different taste from the seeds, with citrus overtones. Some perceive an unpleasant “soapy” taste or a rank smell and avoid the leaves.[7] The flavours have also been compared to those of the stink bug, and similar chemical groups are involved (aldehydes). Belief that aversion is genetically determined may arise from the known genetic variation in taste perception of the synthetic chemicalphenylthiocarbamide; however, no specific link has been established between coriander and a bitter taste perception gene.

The fresh leaves are an ingredient in many South Asian foods (particularly chutneys), in Chinese dishes and in Mexican dishes, particularly in salsa and guacamole and as a garnish. Chopped coriander leaves are a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and curries. As heat diminishes their flavor, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. In Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in large amounts and cooked until the flavor diminishes.[8] The leaves spoil quickly when removed from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried or frozen.

Fresh coriander leaves, known as кинза (kinza) in Russian (from Georgian ქინძი), are often used in salads in Russia and other CIS countries.

Fruit

The dry fruits are known as coriander or coriandi seeds. In India they are called dhania.[9] The word corianderin food preparation may refer solely to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant itself. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed, due to terpenes linalool and pinene. It is described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavored.

The variety vulgare or macrocarpum has a fruit diameter of 3–5 mm while var. microcarpum fruits have a diameter of 1.5–3 mm. Large fruited types are grown mainly by tropical and subtropical countries, e.g. Morocco, India and Australia and contain a low volatile oil content (0.1-0.4%). They are used extensively for grinding and blending purposes in the spice trade. Types with smaller fruit are produced in temperate regions and usually have a volatile oil content of around 0.4-1.8%, and are therefore highly valued as a raw material for the preparation of essential oil.[10]

It is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly before grinding to enhance and alter the aroma. Ground coriander seed loses flavor quickly in storage and is best ground fresh.

Coriander seed is a spice in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. It acts as a thickener. Roasted coriander seeds, calleddhana dal, are eaten as a snack. It is the main ingredient of the two south Indian dishes: sambhar and rasam. Coriander seeds are boiled with water and drunk as indigenous medicine for colds.

Outside of Asia, coriander seed is used for pickling vegetables, and making sausages in Germany and South Africa (see boerewors). In Russia and Central Europe coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread as an alternative to caraway. Coriander seeds are used in European cuisine today, though they were more important in former centuries.[citation needed]

Coriander seeds are used in brewing certain styles of beer, particularly some Belgian wheat beers.[11] The coriander seeds are used with orange peel to add a citrus character.

 

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}