Coriander is an important spice in Thai cuisine. Without coriander you can hardly imagine the Thai cuisine.
The fresh leaves are an ingredient in many Indian foods (such as chutneys and salads); in Chinese and Thai dishes; in Mexican cooking, particularly in salsa and guacamole and as a garnish. As heat diminishes their flavour, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. In Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in large amounts and cooked until the flavour diminishes. The leaves spoil quickly when removed from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried or frozen.
The nutritional profile of coriander seeds is different from the fresh stems or leaves. Leaves are particularly rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, with moderate content of dietary minerals.
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Thai coriander and the Thai cuisine
Coriander (Pak Chi) is a versatile herb popular in Thai cooking. Both the seeds and the leaves of the plant can be used, and offer two distinct flavours.
How to Grow Coriander
Coriander or Asian parsley enjoys a sunny position but appreciates a little shade during the hottest part of the day. Coriander is best grown from seed directly into the soil. Germination of coriander takes up to 3 weeks. Water them in dry periods and ensure the soil never dries out. Coriander does well in containers and can be grown on a sunny windowsill or balcony. The container must be quite deep as coriander has a long taproot.
Harvest the Coriander leaves when the plant is big and robust enough. Cut each leaf off the stem or snip whole stems if necessary. Both the leaves and the stalks can be used. Coriander is a tasty herb to grow, if you re-sow seeds every three weeks you can have lush coriander leaves throughout the summer to add to salads and Thai dishes.
Coriander, also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft plant growing to 50 cm tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the centre of the umbel longer than those pointing toward it. Although sometimes eaten alone, the seeds are often used as a spice or an added ingredient in other foods.
Used plant part
Fruits, leaves and root (the latter only in Thailand). Fruits and leaves posses totally different flavour and can therefore not substitute each other. Drying destroys most of the leaves’
fragrance, yet dried coriander leaves are mentioned in some versions of Georgian khmeli-suneli (see blue fenugreek) and of the Irani ghorme herb mix (see fenugreek).
The plants develop leaves of two different shapes: The base leaves are broad, similar to Italian parsley, and are reputed for the better flavour. Leaves attached to the stems have a pinnate shape, and their flavour is said to be less fresh.
Seeds - Thai-Coriander. The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds. In Indian cuisine they are called dhania. The word coriander in food preparation may refer solely to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed, due to terpenes linalool and pinene. It is described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured.
It is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Roasting or heating the seeds in a dry pan heightens the flavour, aroma and pungency. Ground coriander seed loses flavour quickly in storage and is best ground fresh. Coriander seed is a spice in garam masala and Indian curries which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin, acting as a thickener.
Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are eaten as a snack. They are the main ingredient of the two south Indian dishes: sambhar and rasam.
Coriander leaves resemble European parsley leaves in a number of ways: They have similar shape and are both best used raw, as the flavour vanishes after prolonged cooking. Few recipes boil either of these herbs, but there is again the coincidence the parsley is often used in European broth recipes, usually in the form of bouquet garni, and this finds a sibling in the South Indian spice broth rasam, where coriander leaves are boiled (see tamarinde for more). In both plants, the root has a similar flavour than the leaves, and its flavour turns out to tolerate boiling or simmering much better.
Coriander leaves, however, are a rare ingredient in the cooking of Western Asia. The key ingredients are green chiles, garlic, cardamom and black pepper. Further, optional ingredients are cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. Several recipes name caraway as an ingredient, but I am not sure that this is not a translation error for cumin. All components are processed to a thick paste.
The only other Western Asian cuisine using green coriander is Georgian cooking. Rather uniquely, Georgians like to combine parsley and coriander leaves do decorate their stews, or serve both types of leaves together as a fresh contrast to cheese. Often, the green power of these two herbs is augmented by dill leaves.
Use of coriander leaves is very frequent in Latin America, especially México (e. g., in salsa, see long coriander, or ceviche, see lime). Another famous Mexican food relying on coriander leaves is guacamole, a spicy coarse mash from avocados, chopped tomatoes, lime juice, onions, garlic, chiles and coriander leaves. For the heat, Mexicans most often use the green jalapeño or the slightly hotter serrano (see also paprika), but actually I prefer the flavourful habanero or related chiles for that food.
Germination: 6 – 12 days. Hardiness: Annual
Location: Full sun / Light shade. Coriander is native to regions spanning from southern Europe to southwestern Asia.
Soil quality: Well-drained
Fertilizer: Fertilization supplementation with liquid fertilizer has proven itself for good growth. Supplement with a balanced fertilizer every 4 – 5 weeks.
Height: 12 – 18” It is a soft plant growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall
Spacing: 4 – 12”
Time to Harvest: 3 – 4 weeksUses
All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking. Coriander is used in cuisines throughout the world.
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