Cilantro also known as Coriander has delicate, wide, lacy leaves.
It has a very pungent flavor. It is native to regions spanning from Southern Europe, North Africa to South western Asia. Cilantro/Coriander is used in dishes throughout Caribbean, Latin America and Far East.
All parts of the plant are edible but most commonly used parts in cooking are leaves and dried seeds. Cilantro/ Coriander is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, Mexican, Latin American, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian cuisines. In Indian language that is Hindi its called Kothmir.
Coriander leaves are commonly used to garnish the dishes and dried seeds are used as as spice in food. There is considerable difference between the tastes of leaves and the seeds. The leaves have very citrus taste while seeds when crushed have lemony citrus flavor.
Fresh leaves are most commonly used in many Indian foods mainly Chutneys, Salads and for garnishing the main course items such as dals and vegetables. In Chinese and Thai dishes, in Mexican cooking particularly in Salsa and as a garnish in salads in Russia.
The dried fruit of Cilantro are known as Coriander Seeds. In Indian food they are known as Dhania. In Indian cuisine it is used in both seed and ground form. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan before grinding to enhance flavor and aroma.
In Indian curries it is used as a spice in Garam Masala which is (mixture of many dried spices grounded together) used to enhance flavor in most of Indian dishes. It is used in generous amounts with Cumin as it acts as a thickner. It is used as main ingredient in South Indian curries Rasam and Sambhar. They are used in pickling vegetables outside Asia. The Zuni people use it into their cuisine , mixing powdered seeds grounded with chillies and use it as condiment with meat and eating leaves as salad.
Health effects and Medicinal Uses
Cilantro like other spices have antioxidants which prevent food from spoiling when seasoned with this spice. Leaves have stronger effect than seeds. Cilantro is believed to be the treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. It also helps in lowering Cholesterol.
Availability: All year round
Storage: Always store Cilantro/Coriander in refrigerator with cut ends in a jar with water and leaves should be covered with paper or plastic bag. Keep changing water every 2 days.