Raffaele Imperiale - Are Coriander and Cilantro the Same Thing
Coriandrum sativum Apiaceae - Coriander
Coriander is harvested daily for its amazing benefits ranging anywhere from medicinal to gourmet in application. Which makes it easy to understand why the lovely bitter aromatic plant, coriander, remains one of the most craved and coveted herbs on earth. But, how does coriander relate to cilantro? With this question in mind, we will be discussing the misunderstanding surrounding these delightful entities, and why coriander vs cilantro is often found at the center of controversies for many home cooks.
When Was Coriander Discovered
We find coriander in the Bible (Exodus16:31), and it has been uncovered in the tombs of ancient kings (Tutankhamen, from around 1332 BC). In another of its earliest noted findings, the herb is said to be found in Greece around the second millennium, BC. No matter how far back we trace its origins, coriander, remains one of the favorite herbs traditionally eaten at Passover to this very day.
What Does Coriander Look Like
Coriander looks very close to how flat leaf parsley looks. It is not as durable as flat leaf parsley, as its leaves will bruise more easily. The plant grows with long thin stalks that have sparsely arranged tufts of lace shaped leaves along them. Because of the delicate structure, and the unique leaves it can have an almost fern-like appearance. The plant we most recognize as coriander in the USA is Mexican coriander or cilantro (Eryngium foetidum), and has a very strong aroma as well as taste. Some people find the strong elements of cilantro resemble soap or have a vivid perfume presence, while others simply can't get enough!
How is Coriander Used
Medicinal Uses for Coriander
Coriander sativum's dried seeds are used as an herbal medicine. The seeds (ripe fruit) offer natural antispasmodic results, as well as being able to stimulate the appetite. When combined with a few other wonderful herbs like fennel, caraway, anise, and cardamon a nagging stomach ache, excess gas, and even abdominal distention don't stand a chance, as these medicinals work together to calm the digestive system.
Other Medical Uses for Coriander
- Because it contains antioxidants, coriander is helpful in preserving leftover foods by slowing the rate at which foods seasoned with the spice spoil.
- The spice has been attributed with helping lower cholesterol levels in mice studies.
- Certain chemicals found in the leaves of the coriander plant, have been noted to have an antibacterial effect on such harmful biological critters as salmonella.
- It is said to reduce anxiety.
- A diuretic tea is made from coriander seeds and cumin.
- Some studies (in mice) have found coriander to be helpful to those who suffer with diabetes.
- It has helped people who suffer from insomnia.
NOTE: Always consult your doctor when using any herbal medicines. When breastfeeding or pregnant, never use coriander in any larger quantity than you would as a culinary spice.
Using Coriander in Foods and Cooking
The strong flavor and aroma of coriander has been used in culinary applications for centuries. The leaves and stems are used to season Middle Eastern, South American, Mexican, and South East Asian recipes every day, and most likely every meal. It can be added to stir fry, cold prepared salads, legume and bean dishes, and most often in cuisine calling for a tasty curry experience. Middle Eastern chefs often make an irresistible pungent gourmet chutney using the plant's leaves. Always add the leaf version of the plant at the end of the cooking process, as lengthy cook times will reduce the flavor to almost nothing.
How to Get the Best Flavor From Coriander Seeds
By toasting or roasting coriander seedsyou will be intensifying their flavor. You can use the seeds in their naturally whole form, or grind them up. Either way you can enjoy the mildly sweet flavor profile in just about any recipe. One of the more popular recipes for ground coriander seeds, is Harissa1.
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