There are two, maybe three things, that I cannot live without in my fridge. Tomato, curry leaves and coriander. I’ve known coriander since I was a tiny baby, enjoying my cup of warm rasam sadam mashed with ghee. I know it by a few names - kothamalli, kothmiri soppu, dhania, coriander, cilantro. I relish kothamalli. A rasam is never complete without kothamalli. A chaat without dhania is like eating a dish without its finishing touch. I cannot imagine Rava Idli without coriander. It goes with anything, into almost everything. But the coriander is not just about garnish or addition for flavour. There’s Kothamalli Thogayal (a delicately flavoured thick sauce), Kothamalli Pickle, Kothamalli Podi – all of which are made from the leaves and not the seeds.
You can head to this Wikipedia link for your dose of information such as ‘every part is edible’ and ‘the Europeans except the Portuguese gave up coriander from their cooking’. You can check out a “How to Grow” at this link.
There are few new pieces of information about coriander ”the herb not the spice” that I gathered today while researching for this post.
My Take:Odour? Fragrance would be a more appropriate word. Pungent?!! Babies usually love rasam and most don’t mind massive use of the coriander at all. Babies’ opinion wins hands down. Coriander leaves are fragrant with a mild warm taste.
My take:Contray to what the web says is the norm, when we say coriander, we mostly mean the leaves – when we say coriander seeds, we mean the seeds. Note that the we refers to my small world much like the world of the frog that lived in the well.
The Web gyaan: The herb is an aphrodisiac. The Chinese used them in potions for immortality. The Arabian Nights has many stories providing more proof, though fictional, that the herb has aphrodisiacal properties or at least people believed them to be so. The Ayurveda lists it as an aphrodisiac.
My take:I am not sure if anyone ever became immortal from having coriander potions. If coriander is indeed an aphrodisiac and listed by Ayurveda as one, I am surprised that it finds its way into the food culture of the community I hail from. Many times we’ve been chided right on this blog for using onions or garlic in an odd recipe. In not too ancient times, in generations as recent as my grandparents the use of onion and garlic in cooking was considered a sin by Iyengars because these were bad “tamasika bhava” food. To my knowledge coriander leaves definitely don’t occupy this list. I can almost imagine a historical scene – the clever maamis and silly mamas have a grand meet to cook food, eat food, have a community burping session and decide on food rules. The silly mamas boom about the banning of onions and garlic from ”saatvik” food. The maamis readily agree – they can do away with tons of peeling, putting up with pungent smell and crying. One really really silly mama who hates coriander suggests, “let’s do away with coriander”. One clever maami retorts, “You mean let’s subject ourselves to tasteless torture? Let’s take a vote”. Coriander wins hands down and stays put in the Iyengar cuisine. Please note that this account is entirely fictional!
The recent addition of a muffin tray to my kitchen was accompanied by an empty gas cylinder. I baked these muffins for breakfast a couple of days back. They’re eggless, savoury and almost oil free.
Makes: 6 medium, 10 small
- All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
- Carrots – 1 cup (grated)
- Coriander (Fresh Leaves) - 1/2 cup (chopped into fine bits)
- Black Pepper Corns – 1 tsp (crushed)
- Baking Powder – 1 tsp
- Cooking Soda – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Curd – 1 tbsp
- Tomatoes (pureed into medium consistency) – 1/2 cup
- Milk – 3/4 cup
- Olive Oil - 1 tbsp
- Grease or line a muffin tray. Preheat oven to 220 C.
- Saute the coriander in some oil till the crackling sound subsides.
- Mix the All Purpose Flour, Coriander, Carrots, Baking Powder, Cooking Soda, Salt and Black Peppercorns.
- Fold in the Tomato Puree and Milk into the flour mix. Add curd.
- Pour batter into muffin moulds all the way to the top.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.