The coriander plant
The Coriander plant has the scientific name Coriandrum sativum. The terms coriander and cilantro are often used as a synonym and refer to an annual plant which at birth has an upright growth habit, such as parsley, and which subsequently reaches 60 or 70 centimeters in height when it starts to go in bloom. The word derives from the Latin Coriandrum which finds its roots in the Greek word corys, that is bug with the suffix -ander which means similar. In fact, it has an unpleasant odor, like bedbugs, until its fruit ripens and is called cymicin herb. In the kitchen it is often associated with traditional Asian or Mexican dishes, but it originates in the Mediterranean: in fact it is also mentioned in the Bible and appears in various recipes, as an ingredient, in ancient Rome. Of the coriander plant, fresh leaves and dried seeds are used and then reduced to a powder with a pungent taste. The seeds are also excellent as ingredients for mixtures with which to make herbal teas.
The cultivation of the plant is not difficult: it can be sown in any period to collect the leaves, or during the spring to be able to get the seeds. It prefers a sunny exposure and a not damp soil. It is necessary to sow with temperatures over 15 ° or 20 °, at a depth of 1.5 or 2 centimeters, in a protected place, on rows 50 centimeters apart, since the adult plant will have 20 centimeters in diameter. The plant germinates after 7 or 10 days and each spherical seed is made up of two seeds: therefore two shoots grow from it. When the plant has grown, its leaves can be harvested. They can be dried or frozen, but it is preferable to use them fresh. In late summer the plant will grow, it will create umbrella-like inflorescences and the leaves will change shape and no longer collect. When the leaves tend to yellow then it is the right time to collect its seeds: we must uproot the plant and dry it in bunches for a few days. Then beat it to get the seeds. The larger ones can be sown the following year. The plant can influence the neighboring ones: the fennel suffers while the anise produces force.
The use of coriander in the kitchen
Coriander has a delicate aroma and can be added to many preparations without covering their taste. The spice is used mainly to flavor soups and soups, but also legumes, meat, fish and vegetables, especially sauerkraut and cabbage. THE coriander seeds whole are also used to prepare brines and pickles. Instead, if they are ground they are suitable for flavoring meat, fish and sausages. Coriander is also used to mix spices and is found among those ingredients of curry and also of garam masala, the well-known Indian spice blend. Coriander can also be combined with thyme and pepper for a touch of exotic type of boiled rice. It also goes well with nutmeg to give more flavor to potatoes or puri. In recipes of international cuisine it is very popular and is used to prepare sausages (often mistaken for pepper) and to flavor digestives and liqueurs. In the East more leaves are used, which have a very strong smell, to flavor soups and salads.
Coriander Seeds: Properties of Seeds
Coriander was already well known in antiquity: Pliny the Elder advised to put some coriander seed below the pillow to prevent fever and headache. Coriander has carminative, antispasmodic and stomachic effects. It is therefore a natural remedy for abdominal colic, digestive difficulties and swelling. With i coriander seeds you can prepare digestive infusions that are effective and have a good aromatic flavor: 2 grams of the seeds in boiling water (100 ml) are enough for a few minutes. If you drink two tablespoons at the end of meals, digestion is promoted and intestinal gases are avoided. The stimulating effect of coriander seeds decreases the sense of fatigue, counteracts appetite and is a tonic both for brain activity and for our nervous system. Finally it has an antibacterial and fungicidal effect.