Coriander is an ancient herb (Coriandrum sativum) and is native to southern Europe and the Middle East. However, it is now an indispensable part of Asian cuisine, and used in various forms – fresh green leaves, stems, roots and seeds. The leaves look like flat parsley, but have a much stronger aroma – many people refer to coriander as Chinese parsley.
Coriander leaves are used liberally in Indian and Chinese cuisine. In Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia, however, it is the roots that are preferred and ground into a paste to flavour curries. Coriander seeds are small, light and fibrous – they are used in a whole form to flavour sauces, pickles, and sometimes drinks. In India the dried seeds are powdered and used very commonly in curries – they add both flavour and body.
Coriander is a good aid in digestion and counters flatulence. In India a traditional mouth freshener is made by roasting coriander and fennel seeds together, a small amount of which is chewed after a meal.
Coriander seeds stimulate the appetite as they cause secretion of digestive juices. In China it is used to treat lack of appetite and anorexia.
Massage with coriander oil helps relieve rheumatism and pain in the joints.
The leaves and seeds have a completely different flavour, and cannot substitute for each other. The leaves also cannot be used in a dried form, as they lose all their fragrance.
Did You Know?
- Coriander Seeds have been found in the tombs of Pharoahs, and the Roman legions carried coriander as they progressed through Europe, using it to flavor their bread.
- In ancient times, the Chinese considered coriander leaves an aphrodisiac!
- In India it is supposed to “cool” a hot stomach, banish intestinal gas, and aid digestion.
Quick Serving Ideas
- Corainder leaves can be used in place of basil to make coriander pesto
- Coriander chutney can be made by combining one bunch of chopped coriander with 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped mint, salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Coriander seeds in a pepper mill are a nice alternative to black pepper on the dinner table
- Add 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to decaffeinated black tea for a yummy beverage
- Herbs and Cooking