Coriandrum sativum: Coriander, Cilantro

Family: Apiaceae
Common name: Coriander, Cilantro

Yet another spice that Indian kitchens cannot do without; coriander is found in multiple forms in most of our kitchens. The leaves, dried seeds and coriander seed powder is very commonly used in Indian cuisine. Coriander plants are small and weak-stemmed, growing to about 20 inches.

The leaves have different shapes, wider and multi-lobed towards the bottom of the plant; fine-lobed and feathery towards the top of the plant just before it starts flowering.

Coriander plants produce small, asymmetrical, white flowers that have an intense coriander smell. They then form seeds which are soft and green initially; later maturing into dark green seeds.

The flowers are very attractive to birds, bees and insects because of their intense aroma, and they help in pollinating the flowers. Large coriander patches blooming all at the same time is quite a sight too, with a sea of beautiful white flowers covering large areas.

Dried seeds are roasted, or powdered and used in many Indian dishes, giving the dish a distinct umami flavor. It is also used in garam masalas or spice blends. Roasted coriander seeds are eaten as snacks.

Fresh leaves and stems are chopped finely and used as garnishes in both South Indian and North Indian dishes, added just before the dish is taken off the fire, so that the leaves retain their freshness and flavor. They are also used in chutneys, sauces, pickles and relishes.

Roots of coriander plant have a very intense flavor and are used in many Thai dishes, or in curry pastes. Coriander seed oil is used mainly in hair care.

Coriander has many medicines uses in herbal and traditional medicine, in treatment of stomach diseases, nausea, hernia, joint pain and hemorrhoids.

Propagation is through seeds.

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