Coriandrum sativum, Coriander
Our appreciation for Coriander goes back over 8000 years, with evidence of it's use in those days being found at archeological sites in Israel. Earliest written mention of the herb, then called koriadnon, is on a 4000 year old tablet found in Greece and written in a script known as linear B.
Wild Coriander grows over a very wide area covering Western Asia, Southern Europe and Northern Africa. It's not known, however, in which area it originated as it has been spread so much by cultivation.
All parts of the plant can be eaten. The chopped leaf makes a refreshing garnish, especially when added just prior to consumption. The fruits, being small and round, are always refered to as seeds. These are used heavily in Asian cuisine, often being ground and put into spice pastes. Many delicious India dishes feature the spice prominently, usually in equal proportion with Cumin. In Europe the seeds are generally only used when pickling vegetables.
Surprisingly the less familiar root of the plant has an even more intense flavour, it's used in Thailand as a flavouring and in soups.
It may be tempting to think that the advantages of Coriander go unchallenged, however this is not the case. Particularly in the United States there are folk who see fit to campaign against it. Instead of perceiving the flavour as refreshing and citrusy they refer to it as 'soapy', or even 'rotten'. It seems that these people have genes which give them a sensitivity to certain odorous chemicals in the herb, perhaps combined with a lack of sensitivity to the more pleasant notes.
Another unexpected side to Coriander is that it's reported to have narcotic properties if consumed in very large amounts. The name "dizzy corn" was invented when people noticed the odd behaviour of grazing animals around patches of it. While it seems that it's the leaves that have the necessary chemistry for the effect there do seem to be a number of correspondants who claim to experience an effect from sniffing the freshly ground seeds. Perhaps it's a case of wishful thinking inspired by the term "dizzy corn" and the species name sativum, certainly any chemicals involved are at far too low a level to have an effect when the herb is used in the usual way.
Camstar Herbs can provide dried Coriander leaves and seeds in a product format that suits your needs, just contact us.
|Martin Hoxworth - Group Sales Manager: martincamstar.co.uk|