CORIANDER: AN IMPORTANT COOKERY CHARACTERISTIC
DR. S. M. ALAM
Dec 19 - 25, 2011
Coriander is an aromatic plant originally from the Mediterranean region. The term "coriander" is used to refer to its seeds. It is a highly regarded herb in Latin America and Asia, especially Pakistan, India, China and Thailand.
Its dried fruits have a mild musky and lemony scent. In Asia, it is used in salads, soups, sauces, and sandwiches. Ground coriander seeds are used similarly to salt in the Middle East. Whole or ground coriander seeds are used to season seafood, fish, rice, charcuterie products (sausages and deli meats), omelets, potatoes, cheeses, curries, marinades, chutneys, cookies, cakes and gingerbreads. It works well with parsley, lemon, and ginger. Coriander seeds are an ingredient in Indian curry mixes and garam masala. Coriander is used to make liqueurs, as well as in the production of lower-quality cocoa. Crushed coriander root can be used as a flavoring combined with or as a replacement for garlic.
Coriander is used to relieve rheumatism, joint pains, flu, and diarrhea. Chewing coriander grains is effective for neutralizing the smell of garlic. It is used as an herbal tea after meals.
The round, ridged seeds are dark tan in color and they carry a sweetly aromatic flavor reminiscent of lemon and sage. Coriander is ultimately versatile, flavoring everything from the sweet to the savory in North American, North African, Mediterranean, Mexican, and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Coriander is available in whole seeds or ground, but the ground form loses flavor and aroma rather quickly. The brittle whole seeds can be easily grounded at home right before adding to recipes for the freshest flavor. Less widely available are coriander roots, which are favored in Southeast Asia for scenting soups and making curry paste.
Coriander is used as an ingredient of garam masala, pickling spices and pudding spices and is used in cakes, breads and other baked foods.
Sugared comfits made from the seeds are a traditional sweetmeat and breathe sweetener. Coriander is a characteristic of Arab cookery, being common with lamb, kid, and meat stuffing.
Taklia, a popular Arab spice mixture, is coriander and garlic crushed and fried. Coriander with cumin is a common combination and features in falafel and in the Egyptian appetizer dukka, which consists of those spices plus sesame seeds, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper, roasted and crushed.
Coriander enhances fish dishes and, with other spices, may form a delicious coating for spiced fish or chicken, rubbed into the scored flesh and grilled. Try frying a few seeds with sausages to add an unusual flavor. Coriander complements chili and is included in many chili recipes, such as harissa, the hot North African red pepper sauce. It may be added to cream or cottage cheese. 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. Both seeds and leaves can be used in salads. In Thailand, the root of the coriander plant is used to flavor meats and curries.
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 (1/8î - 3/16î) 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 and 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.
Coriander seed is generally used coarsely ground or more finely powdered, depending on the texture desired. It is best bought whole as, being brittle. It is easy to mill or pound in a mortar. Ground coriander is apt to lose its flavor and aroma quickly and should be stored in an opaque airtight container. Whole seeds keep indefinitely. Their flavor may be enhanced by a light roasting before use.
As coriander is mild, it is a spice to be used by the handful, rather than the pinch. The leaves can be chopped or minced before use. They lose flavor when dried, but may be frozen either blanched or chopped and frozen into ice cubes.
Coriander seed oil is an aromatic stimulant, a carminative (remedial in flatulence), an appetizer and a digestant stimulating the stomach and intestines. 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 coriander also prevent infection in wounds. Coriander has been shown to improve tummy troubles of all kinds, from indigestion to flatulence to diarrhea.
Coriander tea may be given to children under age two for colic. It's safe for infants and may relieve their pain and help them get some much-needed sleep. Coriander contains 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 caused by inflammation, coriander oil may help you.
The small pink, pale blue or white flowers are borne in compound umbels. Coriander prefers warm dry conditions. For seed, it is sown in the spring, needing little maintenance. Harvest in about ninety days as soon as seeds are ripe and before they drop. An indication of ripeness is that the seeds' aroma turns pleasant. For the leaf, the seeds are sown during the summer.