Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cilantro Herb

Cilantro is something which we use extensively for garnishing and for cooking and it has lot of medicinal values as is delicious as well.

Name Derived From
The name coriander derives from French coriandre through Latin coriandrum in turn from Greek “κορίαννον”.

Known around the world
The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves in Britain; cilantro (from the Spanish name for the plant) in the United States, and dhania in the Indian subcontinent.

How does it taste?
The leaves, and especially the stems, have a very different taste from the seeds, similar to Parsley but "juicier" and with citrus-like overtones. Some people instead perceive an unpleasant "soapy" taste and/or a rank smell. This is believed to be a result of an enzyme that changes the way they taste coriander leaves, a genetic trait, but has yet to be fully researched.

Native
Coriander is native to southwestern Asia and west to north Africa. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to 50 cm [20 in.] tall.

Plant
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, and with the petals that point away from the centre of the umbel being longer (5-6 mm) than those pointing to the middle of the umbel (only 1-3 mm long). The fruit is a globular dry schizacarp 3-5 mm diameter. Another factor that dictates the quality of flavor is the time when coriander is harvested. If its roots consistently stay at a temperature above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the herb will quickly bolt, causing its leaves and stems to yield a bitter flavor and become quite chewy. At this point, made evident by the thinner and finer leaves, it is practical to harvest only the coriander seeds, since the stems and leaves are no longer usable as food.

How it is used?
The name 'coriander' in a culinary context may refer to either the seeds of the plant (used as a spice), or to its leaves (used as a herb); however, in North American countries, for example, the name Cilantro is given to the leaves. The fresh leaves and stems are an essential ingredient in many Vietnamese foods, Asian chutneys, Mexican salsas and guacamole, and occasionally is used in sushi rolls. Chopped coriander leaves are also used as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and many curries.

Flavor
As heat diminishes their flavor quickly, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish right before serving. In some Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in huge amounts and cooked till they dissolve into sauce and their flavor mellows. Another factor that dictates the quality of flavor is the time when coriander is harvested. If its roots consistently stay at a temperature above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the herb will quickly bolt, causing its leaves and stems to yield a bitter flavor and become quite chewy. To use the stems, separate cilantro leaves from stems. Chop stems finely and add them to your dish a minute or two before serving, just giving them time to warm up and disperse their flavor. The leaves will remain beautiful and fresh if you use them to garnish individual plates.

How it is stored?
The fresh coriander herb is best stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers, after chopping off the roots. The leaves do not keep well and should be eaten quickly, as they lose their aroma when dried or frozen.

Medicinal qualities
Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid. Cilantro leaves aids digestion to some extent.

Breath Freshener
Cilantro leaves are great breath freshener’s after having our meal we could pop in some cilantro leaves for fresh breath of air. Even consuming it through food on our daily basis will help us avoid bad breathe.

Skin
When the juice of cilantro leaves is applied to the face it helps to even out the skin.It is very good for the discoloration of lips. It will remove the sometimes brown tinge of the lips due to excessive use of lip sticks and will help in getting the normal pinkish color. Apply the cilantro juice for 10 minutes every day for healthy looking lips.

Seed
The seed is powdered and is extensively used for making meat dishes in India, it adds to the flavor.The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the parts that are used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges. They have a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage. Coriander seeds are available in whole or ground powder form.

Nutritional Value per 100g (3.5 oz)
Energy 20 kcal 100 kJ
Carbohydrates 4 g
-Dietary fiber 0.2 g
Fat 0.5 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A equiv. 337ug 37 %
Vitamin C 27 mg 45 %
Coriander seeds contain an unusual array of phytonutrients. They are a very good source of dietary fiber and a good source of iron, magnesium and manganese.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this great post on the use of cilantro. I used to think I hated this herb. But, my husband happen to purchase a huge bunch the other day and never did anything with it. Well, I was trying to figure out what to cook for dinner tonight and saw the cilantro and began figuring what I could possibly use it along with the chicken breast I had.

    I decided to make a quick steamed dish of the chicken with cilantro, lemon, frozen organic peas, onions and a small amount of tomato paste and serve it over some organic brown rice.

    It was amazing! My husband had two large servings and there are no left overs.

    So, after doing a quick nutritional search online. I was pleased to find out about all the amazing health benifts of cilantro.
    Well, I am now just so excited about all the new dishes I am going to try using my new favorite herb.

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