Top Indian Spices – Coriander


When it comes to Indian spices, coriander can well boast to be the most versatile sort.  Its taste is a little dominating in the seed form. Coriander has a nutty, spicy flavour and is pleasantly fragrant. When young, the entire plant is used in preparing chutneys and sauces and the fragrant leaves are used for flavouring curries and soup. Coriander seeds are not only used extensively as a condiment, but also have medicinal properties, especially the oil. Our ancient heritage Ayurveda lists numerous spices for their medicinal properties. Coriander was meted out for insomnia, cloves for spleen, kidney and intestinal disorders.

But what are these coriander seeds. Basically, the fruit of the Coriandrum sativum plant are dried and commonly referred to as coriander seeds. Ayurveda calls it a cooling spice that combines well with cumin, turmeric, fennel, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Fresh coriander can really enhance any dish and the super part is that all parts of the plant are edible! We can use the leaves for garnish, the stems and leaves in chutney, the seeds in garam masala and other masalas, the roots in Oriental cooking and coriander oil in seasonings for sausages and other meat products. And it would also be a great surprise that coriander is not ingenious to India but features in a variety of cuisines, including Southwestern, Latin, Caribbean, Mexican, Mediterranean, North African and Southeast Asian.

How should we store coriander? Remove the roots and thick woody stems and store the leaves in an airtight container kept in the fridge. It can stay for a week. As and when you need it, wash the leaves well, dry them, chop and use. Coriander seeds should be lightly roasted to ensure no breeding ground for any kind of insects. Coriander powder should be stored in a clean container and you may use a piece of whole asafoetida to prevent spoilage.

Foodies will know the advantages of putting fresh coriander in dishes such as Coriander Chicken, Coriander Parantha, chutney, pulao, or then go Mexican and make a salsa with tomato, onion, garlic, chillies and freshly chopped coriander leaves. Or stir some coriander leaves into a chilled cucumber raita. Or use with spices as a stuffing in bread but bake in large batches as this is a super success. A combination of powdered coriander seeds with cumin gives a powder called dhana jiru that not only adds deep robust flavour but also thickens the curry if there is any. Split the coriander seed to reveal a kernel that when chewed upon cleanses the palate – this dhana dal is a popular mouth freshener. Like it is said coriander aids digestion, stimulates the appetite…so take a look at these recipes….

Coriander Prawns with Mango Salad

Dhania aur Mirch ki Roti

Kothimbir Wadi 

Back in town, just before Dussehra!

Back from quite the extensive and exhilarating African safari! My knowledge about this mystique land was quite a bit, but after this trip I can say that its gone up and I feel really good that I got to live this wonderful experience of a lifetime. Navratri, this year, was not in my homeland – but I would also not regret the fact that I explored the African land with its rich culture, traditions and food, in the best possible manner. Was lucky enough to be back just a day before Dussehra, so caught up with some usual family routine. Needed a much required rest, so relaxed in the morning. Later in the evening, went to town for some shoe shopping for my daughter Kriti. As we were there, so decided to catch up with my sister-in law Jyotsna and nephew Manit. Had a great time with both of them and returned back in the evening, had dinner at home and retired for the day.

Here’s wishing all my fans and followers a very belated Happy Dussehra!

Yesterday was the usual day in office with meetings lined up. There is a Blogger’s Meet coming up in November, so there was a meeting with food writer and a dear friend Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal along with the team from Hungama Digital and others. Discussions on the schedule of the meet will be done over an Oriental lunch prepared by the team of chefs. The delicious menu had – Mixed Vegetable Satay, Pineapple Satay, Chicken Satay and Fish Satay with three types of sauces: Chilli Scallion Sauce, Soya Chilli Sauce, Peanut Sauce and Veg and Chicken Dimsums for starters. Maincourse had Vegetable Pot Rice and Chicken Pot Rice and ended with Paan Icecream in dessert. Post lunch, another meeting was scheduled. Watch out this space for more details on this one!

Feeling sad on the demise of Jaspal Bhatti, the original comedy king of Indian television – who can forget the satires he carried in his shows ‘Ulta-Pulta’ and ‘Flop-Show.’ RIP Jaspal Bhatti !

Besides this, Turban Tadka shoots are going on in the office studio, to wrap up tomorrow!  All for now, more later…

Till I write again.

Sanjeev Kapoor

Top Indian Spices – Cardamom

Try and visualize an Indian dessert without the flavour of cardamom! Some of them work but mostly not. Try a bowl of kheer without cardamom (elaichi). Simply a boring medley of milk, rice and sugar! It is the gentle coaxing of the cardamom powder that transforms a simple pudding into a feast fit for the Gods. Next, look at the famous Indian mix of spices called garam masala. Without cardamoms it would be ‘thanda’ masala – nothing worth writing home about! Cardamom is the third most expensive spice of the world after saffron and vanilla.
Black cardamom has a pleasant aromatic odour inspite of having looks that are deceiving. Large black cardamoms are used for flavouring various vegetable and meat preparations in Indian dishes. They are also effective flavouring agents in confectionery, hot or sweet pickles and in beverages. The green cardamom is the ‘queen’ of Indian spices and ranks as the second most important national spice!  Extensively used in medicine as a powerful aromatic aid, a mixture of its powdered seeds with ground ginger, cloves and caraway is helpful in combating digestive ailments. Cardamom seeds can be chewed to prevent bad breath, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Powdered seeds of cardamom boiled with tea water impart a very pleasant aroma to tea.
It is known that the world’s best cardamom comes from Kerala. The pods are fat, green and full of seeds. Anyone with green fingers would love to know that cardamom plants are naturally grown in a swampy land or by the side of streams. They grow best in the shade of the natural canopy formed by the dense forest. As the trees shed their foliage, it becomes organic manure for the cardamom tree. The first harvest is received after three to four years of plantation and it goes on till fifteen to twenty years. Fruits are separated from the harvested panicles for drying and curing. Three days of continuous smoking from a wood kiln is required for proper curing or drying.
Cardamom seeds lose their flavour quickly when ground; even if left whole, the seeds show a loss of about 40% of the essential oil per year. Therefore, only whole cardamom pods should be bought. Perfect way to release the good oils is to crush the seeds in a mortar with pestle and add it to the dish immediately. Use the pod covering as a flavourant in your masala chai!
What could you do with elaichi then? Try out our suggestions!

Elachi Phirni
Teatime Cardamom Cake
Bhutte ki Biryani