Coriander, also called Coriandrum sativum, is known for the Carnival, but that's not what we want to talk about, despite the joy of those little paper circles being good for your health. Now let's talk about the plant, the one also known as Chinese parsley or with the Spanish name of cilantro.
Usually either they love it or are hated, it seems that it is a genetic question, the love for this "medicinal herb". Of course it is full of contradictions: it originates in the West but is especially appreciated in the East, both the leaves and the fruits are used but if the former are almost spicy, the others are sweetish, with a shape similar to that of peppercorns, but Detective stories.
The original name Coriandrum it is Latin, it is a word mentioned by Pliny in his work Naturalis Historia, but it has its roots in the Greek word corys or korios (bug) followed by the suffix -ander (resembling). It is clearly a reference not to the shape but to the horrible smell of the fruits of Coriander when they are unripe. The same produced by the plant by squeezing or rubbing the leaves. Certainly it is not very inviting, it is almost better not to know the origin of the name if you want to cook with this plant which, on the plate, is not so bad if used well.
The Coriander is an annual herbaceous plant of the Apiaceae family (or Umbelliferae), the same as other well-known plants such as the cumin, L'dill, the fennel and of course the parsley. The flowers produced in spring are white. They come together in umbrella inflorescences: this is why the Umbelliferae family.
The Coriander it has many properties, it is worth not paying attention to that nuisance of the unripe smell: it is antispasmodic and stomachic, a good natural remedy for abdominal colic, digestive difficulties and bloating. Not only that, it also alleviates the sense of fatigue, fights inappetence and proves to be a good tonic for brain activity and nervous system. If desired, this plant is used, secondarily, for its fungicidal and antibacterial effect.
Since ancient times, in the cradle of Mediterranean civilizations, the Coriander it was accepted as an aromatic and medicinal plant, proof of this is that in some Egyptian tombs it appears depicted among the ritual offerings. There are testimonies of its use also by the Mycenaeans, the Romans they used it in turn, also as a base for a condiment called "Coriandratum ". Even if not scientifically verified, the idea of Pliny the Elder that coriander seeds under the pillow made the headache disappear, also preventing fever, has come down to our days.
Not under the pillow but in other ways that we will see later, today leaves and fruits are used for fight stomach pains, aerophagia problems and migraines. Often a good infusion of coriander aids digestion and acts as an antidiarrheal. In Sri Lanka it goes beyond simple herbal tea: the Tamil populations with the fruit prepare a decoction which, sweetened with honey, relieves coughs. There are no particular and serious contraindications, but when used in doses the Coriander it is intoxicating and can cause nerve and kidney problems.
The Coriander it is a very simple plant to grow, but it is necessary to know that its presence can interact with neighboring plants influencing their growth and development. Fennel, for example, despite being from his own family, suffers from it. On the contrary, anise appreciates it a lot and if you find it next to it, you feel invigorated.
Once planted the Coriander, to get the fruits you have to wait until June / July. For the collection of the umbrellas, which must be cut together with their stem, it is necessary to proceed early in the morning when the plant is damp due to dew, but immediately putting them to dry, in bunches, hanging in the shade. After separating the fruits from the "stems", the former are kept in glass containers.
Taking a step back, before thinking about the fruits and theirs drying, you can take care of the fresh Coriander, available in about three weeks. We therefore intend the leaves, very tender, ready for us starting one month after sowing. Once picked, we can eat them raw, in one salad, or put them among the ingredients of a soup.
Coriander in the kitchen
Speaking of salads and soups, let's see how the Coriander behaves in the kitchen, premising that, although born in the Mediterranean countries, it is more common in Indian and Latin American cuisine. For example, we find it used for the preparation of some cured meats, or to flavor meat, fish and vegetables. Its presence in beers, biscuits, sugared almonds and pampepato is more unexpected.
Less spicy than the leaves, more sweetish, the seeds are used as a spice: ground, they are one of the ingredients of curry he was born in garam masala. The leaves, in the East, are used instead of parsley, instead, and have a spicier flavor. In Tenerife, Coriander gives flavor to the sauce Green Mojo, in Southern Africa al boerewors, a very tasty spiral-shaped sausage. It is also used in a similar way in Italy, in particular on the Ionian coast of Basilicata.
In addition to fruits and leaves, we can also use roots: in the Thai culinary tradition a condiment is prepared with them, mixing them with garlic and pepper. For those who are attentive to the figure, a pound of fresh coriander contains 23 kcal.
Love or hate the Coriander? To find out what types we are, we should try to cultivate it. At € 2.50 you get a pack of 100 seeds of this plant. If perfectly preserved, they can germinate even after several years, all have a minimum duration of two seasons. We find them vacuum-packed, they must be kept in the dark and at a controlled temperature.
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