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….