Know Your Ingredients - Cilantro
Cilantro/ Coriander is an herb and a spice that is used extensively in Indian, Mexican and a lot of South Asian cuisines for the amazing flavor it imparts and also for it's innumerable health benefits.
Cilantro is also called Coriander leaves in some countries and the seeds of this plant are called Coriander seeds. Fresh Cilantro leaves add a bright and citrusy flavor to dishes while the coriander seeds add sweet and nutty flavor to dishes.
In addition to these, Cilantro leaves helps reduce heavy metal toxicity in the body by aiding detoxification. Heavy metals like lead, mercury, aluminum, etc enter our bodies through food, air, cooking utensils, deodorant, makeup products and even the fillings in our teeth. These metals can damage our nervous, immune and reproductive systems and may even cause cancer. So adding cilantro and coriander to your dishes can help remove some of the heavy metals from the body.
CULINARY BENEFITS OF CILANTRO & CORIANDER:
Cilantro leaves can be used as a garnishing for curries, rice dishes, dals or lentil soups, salads. Just chop them up and use as a garnish.
It can be used in dips like hummus and guacamole
It can be made into pestos and added to marinades.
Coriander seeds pair well other spices like cumin and black pepper and can be used as a rub on meats and fish before cooking.
Powdered coriander seeds can be used as a ‘masala’ in curries, marinades, pickled dishes and salad dressings
Here’s a tip for you: While Coriander seeds can easily be bought in powdered form, I strongly recommend buying whole seeds and grinding them yourself. The result is a fresher and has a more intense flavor. You can also toast whole seeds lightly to help release the essential oils in them and enhance their flavor.
STORING FRESH CILANTRO:
Once you bring your cilantro home, remove the rubber band/ tag holding the bunch together - leaving it on the stems will cause them to decay faster. Then, place them upright in a jar filled with an inch of water, like a bouquet of flowers. Loosely cover the leaves with an upside-down plastic bag and pop it in the fridge. Storing cilantro this way will keep it fresh for a long time. I do this when I have enough space in my fridge :)
Another easy way to store Cilantro is by giving it a quick rinse and drying it out completely using a clean kitchen cloth or a paper towel. Once dry, wrap it in fresh paper towel and store in a plastic bag.