Posted in Kafevend Blog
Though it is not a staple ingredient of masala chai, coriander can be added to impart a citrus flavour to the drink. Before you get confused, I should point out that there are two parts of the plant that are used in cooking: the leaves and the fruits. The leaves are perhaps more well known in the British kitchen, particularly those with a Jamie Oliver book tucked away on a shelf. The fruits (also known as coriander seeds) are used in Britain in the production of certain alcoholic drinks, but they are widely used in Asian cooking along with the leaves. It is the fruit that is used in masala chai, typically roasted and ground to enhance the flavour and add a lemony twist. The roasted fruits are also enjoyed whole as snacks. The roots of the coriander plant are also used in cooking, seeing much use in Thai dishes.
Whilst its use is believed to date back as far as 5000 BCE, the earliest form of the word coriander is first alluded to in Greek texts from the Mycenaean period of 1600-1100 BCE. Evidence suggests it was cultivated in Greece in the second century BCE, for use as both a herb and spice as well as an ingredient in perfumes. After a jar was found filled with coriander seeds in Tutankhamen's tomb, it was suggested that it may also have been grown in Ancient Egypt. More recently, coriander was taken to America in the 17th century. In America it is more commonly known by its Spanish name Cilantro, due to its prevalence in Mexican cooking.