A very special herb that is a winner in any language

A very special herb that is a winner in any language
Jenny Morris

Fooding Around with Jenny Morris

As a child growing up I think one of the first adult meals I can remember was my father’s mutton curry. I remember the distinct flavour of the coriander – wait a minute: did I just say coriander?
What I meant was dhania. I’m a Durban girl and in Durban they call it dhania. Ok, so now that I’m a Cape Town girl I call it coriander. (I think I qualify as being a Cape Town girl; I have lived here for 31 years, after all.) Whatever you chose to call this fabulous herb, that not everyone likes, I might add (some people say it tastes and smells like a stick bug) the Indians have a lot to thank the Greeks for, because Alexander the Great took it from Greece to India, similar to how the Portuguese took chillies to India.
Speaking of which, coriander just loves to be in the company of chillies. It also gets along fabulously with chicken, fish, beef, lamb, prawns and most vegetables for that matter.

What is great about this herb is that all parts of the plant are edible – the fresh leaves and the dried seeds, as well as the roots, which is a highly prized part of the plant in Southeast Asia. It is pounded into curry pastes that are renowned for their wonderful flavours. I have eaten it in Indian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Tex-Mex, Latin American, Portuguese, Chinese, Moroccan and African cuisine.

I personally grow dhania so that I can pick it nice and fresh and fragrant and juicy. It loves the sun and lots of water. The more you pick, the more it grows, and it is really very easy to grow. It self-sows and gives you more for the next season. Try putting some into a window box or a patch in the garden. I love to pound it into a paste with garlic, Willow Creek lemon scented olive oil and chillies. I keep it in the fridge and spread it all over my toast that I top with a soft and trembling poached egg, or stir it into chicken for a tasty stir-fry.

Let’s cook!

Fruity chicken & cranberry salad
Serves 6 as a salad main

Ingredients:

  • 3 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cubed granny smith apples, skin on
  • 1 cup mixed chopped nuts
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1 cup halved grapes (black
  • 3/4  cup chopped coriander
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • ¾ cup good quality mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp toasted caraway seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together and chill, until you need it!
© Jenny Morris 2013

My Coriander Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red chillies with seeds chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 packed cups fresh coriander
  • 1/2 cup Willow Creek Lemon Infused olive oil

Method:
Place the chillies, garlic, salt, coriander and olive oil into the bowl of your food processor and blend to a paste. Seal in a well sterilised jar and store in the fridge. If you are using it to stir fry freeze in ice cubes until needed.
It is great stirred into pasta and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
© Jenny Morris 2013