KJ's Kitchen

Cooking with cilantro

Cooking with cilantro is now one of my favourite things to do! But what is cilantro I hear you saying?

Last week when making a curry I hurriedly went into the garden and picked what I thought was flat leaf parsley. We did have flat leaf parsley in the veggie garden however it disappeared under the boots of the workmen when we had the garden enclosed with wire (to keep out the birds and the brush turkeys). After a while it made its way through the soil, as did the cilantro. I really enjoy the smell and flavour that cilantro gives to a dish. I was admiring the aroma of the so-called flat leaf parsley, which turned out to be cilantro!

Cilantro growing in our garden

Cilantro (sih-LAHN-troh) is the Spanish word for coriander leaves. It is sometimes called Chinese or Mexican parsley. My mistaking cilantro for flat leaf parsley was not such a bad culinary move! The cilantro added so much flavour to the curry dish. Then I came across a recipe “Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry” with cilantro. I had to try it. My “One & Only” (O&O) is not a big fan of lentils. I told him what was for dinner and he said, “does it have meat”? I say “no, but it is good for your health”. We both enjoyed the meal, but maybe me a little more than he! And yes, there was some over which we had for lunch the next day.

Cilantro is very popular in Asian and South America cooking. The leaves and seeds are taken from the same plant, cilantro are the leaves and the dried seeds are called coriander. The flavours are quite different. In the part of the world where I live we mostly refer to the leaves of the plant and the seeds as coriander. It is common for it to be used interchangeably. If you come across a recipe with cilantro in it, if you did not know before, then you know now that cilantro are the leaves of the coriander plant – or is it a cilantro plant? The botanical name is coriandrum sativum.

Try this Coriander and Lime Salad Dressing – delicious!

For my birthday dinner this month I am going back to one of my favourite recipes for quail – Marinated Herbed Quail. The combination of cilantro, fresh ginger, garlic, lime juice, grated lime rind and a few other ingredients – delectable! It is a meal we like to have at home, as it is finger licking good!

If you do not have cilantro growing at your place just yet, then think about buying a plant or buy a bunch from the supermarket. There are plenty of recipes you can try. The best way to store cilantro is to place it in a jar of water (just like a bunch of flowers) and cover loosely with a plastic bag. Change the water every couple of days. Cilantro, like many other herbs, are good for our health. It has vitamin C and other minerals. It is low in saturated fat and has no cholesterol. Another reason to find a recipe this weekend with cilantro. Buon appetito!

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