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home > food & wine dictionary > coriander

Food and Wine Dictionary


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 coriander    [KOR-ee-an-der]

Native to the Mediterranean and the Orient, coriander is related to the parsley family. It's known for both itsseeds (actually the dried, ripe fruit of the plant) and for its dark green, lacyleaves. The flavors of the seeds and leaves bear absolutely no resemblance toeach other. Mention of coriander seeds was found in early Sanskritwritings and the seeds themselves have been discovered in Egyptian tombs datingto 960 b.c. The tiny (1/8-inch), yellow-tan seeds are lightly ridged. Theyare mildly fragrant and have an aromatic flavor akin to a combination of lemon,sage and caraway. Whole coriander seeds are used in pickling and for specialdrinks, such as mulled wine. Ground seed is used in many baked goods(particularly Scandinavian), curry blends, soups, etc. (See also  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.) Both forms are commonly available in supermarkets.Coriander leaves are also commonly known as cilantro  andChinese parsley . Fresh coriander leaves have an extremely pungent(some say fetid) odor and flavor that lends itself well to highly seasoned food.Though it's purported to be the world's most widely used herb, many Americans andEuropeans find that fresh coriander is definitely an acquired taste. Chooseleaves with an even green color and no sign of wilting. Store a bunch ofcoriander, stems down, in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the leaves.Refrigerate in this manner for up to a week, changing the water every 2 days.Coriander leaves are used widely in the cuisines of India, Mexico, the Orient andthe Caribbean.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.


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