Thursday, 12 September 2013

CORIANDER/ CILANTRO/ DHANYA

Hi peeps!

Welcome to Thursday; used to be known as Thors Day; and we wave our magic kitchen mallets Coriander's way today. Coriander is a herb and spice of many names; including cilantro and dhanya/ dhania- herbs.com

INTRODUCTION: Cilantro and Chinese parsley refers to the leaves of this herb. The leaves are finely divided and very similar to parsley. The cilantro leaves have a strong fragrance that is described as both sweet and pungent. The seeds of the plant are always referred to as coriander. Coriander seeds become more fragrant as they age. Coriander/cilantro is one of the most widely used herbs. You can find references to cilantro in almost all cultures. Many recipes use the names interchangeably. Fresh coriander is cilantro and dried cilantro is usually the ground or whole coriander seeds.

HISTORICAL FACTS: Coriander/cilantro has been around since biblical times. In the Bible, Exodus, XVI, 31 mentions coriander. You can find medical and culinary uses cilantro for in texts from India, Egypt. Ancient Rome and China dating back seven thousand years. The ancient Egyptians believed coriander could be used in the afterlife as a food for the departed.

HORTICULTURAL FACTS: Cilantro is a hardy annual. Cilantro is a relative of the parsley family. Unlike parsley it is an annual. The plant originated in southern Europe, North Africa and the western portion of the Asian continent. The leaves are scalloped, shiny, broad and flat. It grows from a central stalk attached to a taproot to a height of 12-18 inches with flowering stems branching out.

GROWING GUIDELINES: Depending on the goal of growing cilantro/coriander you should plant in full sun if you desire seeds for coriander or in partial shade if you want cilantro for culinary or medicinal needs. Cilantro is very easy to grow from seed. Sow seeds in ½ inch furrows after the danger of frost has past. Sow seeds every two weeks to assure a continuous crop of fresh leaves. If you clip leaves from the plant it will eventually become tough. Don’t fertilize heavily as this causes sprawling.

FLOWERING TIME: usually in late summer. Flowers are umbels of tiny white flowers.

CULINARY FACTS: Cilantro leaves are used to flavor dishes from the Middle East, Latin America and Southeastern Asia. Chop just prior to use for maximum flavor. In China Cilantro/Chinese parsley is finely chopped and added to fish and meat dishes Thai cooks add it to a multitude of dishes. Use it to enhance salads, beans, rice, omelets, soups, lamb, cilantro based pesto and almost any dish you can imagine.

Coriander seeds have a warm taste with hints of lemon, orange and sage with a slightly bitter quality. It is best paired with beans, pork, corn, breads and duck. You will find it many times combined with garlic, curry and chili. They are used to flavor beans, stews, sausage and pastries.

HARVESTING TIPS: Cilantro is best harvested prior to seeds forming. Can be dried, however the dry herb is less fragrant. The leaves and stems are very aromatic. Freezing leaves is not recommended. Cut stems and place to into cool water and cover with a plastic bag. Should keep in a refrigerator for up to 7days.

Coriander seeds should be harvested in summer months as they ripen. If you leave the seeds on the plant the weight of the seeds will bend the seedpods to the ground where they become overripe and release from the plant. Once off the plant they are of very poor quality.

SPICY RED LENTIL DAHL
Ingredients
1 cup red lentils
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup water
3 onions, chopped
salt to taste
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Directions
Cook the lentils by boiling or pressure cooking until lentils are soft. (Pressure cooking is faster.)

In a skillet heat the oil and add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to flutter, add onions, ginger, jalapeno peppers, and garlic. Saute until the onions and garlic are golden brown. Add coriander and cumin. Add chopped tomatoes. Saute the mixture well until tomatoes are well cooked.

Add water. Boil 6 minutes. Add cooked lentils, stirring the red lentils well.
Add salt to taste, stirring well. Add finely chopped cilantro and remove from heat. Serve hot.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER FLORETS
Ingredients
3 cups grated cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 (12 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, diced
2 teaspoons garam masala

Directions
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, and cumin seeds. Cook and stir until the onion has turned golden brown; about 10 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomato, cayenne pepper, salt, turmeric, and coriander. Continue cooking 2 more minutes, then stir in the cauliflower, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kidney beans; cook and stir until heated through. Sprinkle with garam masala to serve.

Join me tomorrow for the best Brussels Sprouts recipes that the whole family will definitely love!

*spice up your life with coriander hugs*
Chef Shants xxxxx

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