My first encounter with coriander leaves happened when I saw them floating in my dal as a toddler. Although the green colour looked beautiful against the yellow, I spat it out the moment I consumed it. Removing stuff from food was never an option in our home though. The next time my dal had finely chopped pieces of them which were just too cumbersome to remove. This is how, somehow, coriander entered my life and, as I now realise, is here to stay.
Coriander, dhaniya or cilantro though normally associated with garnishing and adding that dash of colour to any dish has immense health benefits. It is a great source of dietary fibre, contains Vitamins C, K and A, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and also contains iron in high quantities. It is good for eyes and promotes the nervous system. Diabetes can be controlled by including coriander in regular diet too.
Indian cooking uses coriander extensively in some or the other form. Everyday cooking commonly uses ground coriander seeds as a spice. Coriander leaves are an integral part of most chutneys served with dosas, dhoklas, chaats, etc. We always had the simple green chutney (coriander+salt+cumin seeds+lemon juice) stored in our refrigerator since we loved having it in sandwiches.
My love affair with coriander started only post marriage (no, A is not wary 😉 ) when the onus of purchasing grocery fell on me. Helpful neighbours who accompanied me to the market taught me the right way to select green leafy and other vegetables. Coriander leaves were trickiest to choose. The local ones have smaller leaves but have a wonderful smell while the hybrid ones look good but are bland. I also realised that buying it from local farmers is better than picking it up from malls.
One wouldn’t believe the occasion sorting and storing these leaves can be. Mom loved it but I despise the effort at times. However, without them my cooking feels curtailed. There are different ways to store them too. One option is to wash them, let them dry and then store chopped coriander leaves in an airtight container wrapped in a soft cloth. Personally, I like to sort and directly store them and wash and chop them whenever I need to use.
Coriander stems have multiple uses too and it is wise not to discard them. I wash them and use them in soups or while making chutneys. I also chop them and mix them in the earth of my plant pots at home. They decompose slowly but do give nutrition to the plant. I try and include my kids in the planting, watering and giving natural fertilisers process and they enjoy it immensely.
I’ve been trying to grow coriander in my home garden but even after repeated attempts it had refused to sprout till now. Plants are no less stubborn than fussy babies, I tell you. I believe it is vengeance on its part for the dislike I finally did grow out of. I won’t give up though!
Do you like and use coriander in your cooking too? Do share your thoughts with me.
This post is written for #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge for April 2019