June 5, 2012

Herb & Spice Fact of the Day

Cilantro also known as Coriander (Hindi: Dhania - धनिया), is an annual herb. It is native to Southern Europe, North Africa & South West Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant with leaves that are broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The leaves have a sharp pungent aroma, with citrus overtones. Some people identify it as an unpleasant "soapy" taste or a rank smell. Interestingly, there appears to be a genetic component to the detection of "soapy" versus "herby" tastes. The fresh leaves are an ingredient in South Asian, Chinese and Mexican cuisine. Most people have enjoyed it in salsa and guacamole and as a garnish in Indian dishes. As heat tends to diminish the flavor, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. Cilantro seeds are also used in Indian cuisine, in curries and also in pickles.

Like other herbs, cilantro leaves and seeds are rich in antioxidants, with the leaves being especially potent and contain essential volatile oils such as borneol, linalool, cineole, cymene, terpineol, dipentene, phellandrene, pinene and terpinolene and numerous anti-oxidant polyphenolic flavonoids such asquercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and epigenin. In addition, cilantro leaves and seeds have been used in traditional medicine as an antibacterial, anxiolytic, analgesic, aphrodisiac, anti-spasmodic, deodorant, digestive, carminative, fungicidal, lipolytic (weight loss), stimulant and stomachic. activity. In traditional Indian medicine, cilantro seeds are also used as a diuretic and carminative agent. Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K and there is also some evidence to support that cilantro consumption can reduce LDL "bad" cholesterol. So go ahead ... and sprinkle away!! Here's a picture of my cilantro plant from my very own herb garden. Its been going for a little over 6 weeks now ... so Yay! for not having killed it with my black thumb!! :)

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