Friday, March 5, 2010

Spice Lesson 2 - Coriander seed

Believe it or not coriander seed is actually considered a fruit. These fruits have hollow stems and are known as umbelliferaes, they includes parsley, cumin, carrot, celery, fennel, parsnip dill, caraway, anise, Queen Annes lace as well as others. Coriander is also know as Chinese parsley, or in America cilantro - although to most North Americans this refers mostly to the leaf of the plant not the seed (fruit). Today we are strictly going to talk about the coriander seed, and leave the leaf talk for an herb post. There is a very distinct difference between the flavors of the seed versus the leaf, which we will get into later. Just to make it crystal clear when a recipe refers to coriander as a spice, it's asking you to use these citrusy little pods usually ground into a powder. Coriander is native to southern Europe, North Africa all the way to southwestern Asia. This means you can find it in a multiple of cuisines including  Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Mexican, Latin American, African, and even main stream American. The flavors or notes of this spice include lemon, nutty, warm, and bright. A great way to maximize the flavor of these beautiful seeds is to lightly toast them in a dry pan before grinding or crushing. It's best to buy them whole, and grind them as needed, as they will quickly loose their intensity if kept pre-ground. Coriander is used in many different ways, it's a great pickling agent, can be used instead of caraway in rye breads or even used to brew certain styles of wheat beer. There are also some medicinal properties to the fruit, in Iran they believe it to relieve anxiety and insomnia. It is also used in Indian medicine as a diuretic as well as a digestive aid. In learning about different spices it's amazing how many of them are praised in different cultures for their healing powers. If you've got a great recipe that uses coriander please let us know all about it. Coriander has most recently been used in my recipe  for carrot salad. 

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting article! I was planning to learn about a new herb or spice every day, but so far it has not happened. And today, my lucky day - I saw your blog :-). Thanks for sharing this info!


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