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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Creating A Madras Curry and Growing Coriander

 SPICE IT UP

During winter our favourite foods are those slow cooked casseroles, but you may not have realised that curries, are in fact a form of slow cooked casserole.
The main difference is that they’re usually got a lot more spices in them and they aren’t necessarily spicey hot. 
Ian says " a lot of people forget that in effect, a curry is a casserole with a distinct number and type of spices."
If you think about it, that's perfectly true, because curries tend to have cheaper cuts of meat that need simmering for a couple of hours, just as you would a casserole.
But because curries hail from countries where the spice trade was high in importance, those countries cuisine, reflect  the spices that they produced.
I'm talking with herb and spice guru, Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au 
Let’s find out..

Ian’s tip is “You can actually start to make a curry by making a sweet spice blend.” Curries need not always be hot as in bitey hot
  • Start with cinnamon, add, allspice, cloves, ground coriander seed.
  • Then add turmeric and cummin, paprika, some chilli (a little or a lot).
  • And this is basically a madras style curry.
  • When all these are blended together, you can't go wrong.
  • If you're wondering what proportions, first smell the individual spices. 
  • If they smell strong, such as ground cloves, then add only a small portion.
  • You can also add some dried curry leaves from your curry tree-fry some until they're crispy and save to use as a garnish after cooking.Murraya koenigii
If they smell mild, add more, such as coriander, up to 1 tablespoon, and cummin, about 2 teaspoons.
The trick is balance of flavours. One thing is to not overdo the cloves, pepper and chilli.
  • Another tip is roasting spices is not always necessary, particularly if you’re making a vegetable curry.
  • If you'r curry blend is a little too hot for your liking, you can tone it down by stirring some greek yoghurt through it.
If you have any for Ian about spices or herbs or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write

O 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Coriander: Coriandrum sativum

  • What is Coriander ? Is Coriander really Cilantro or is that just what Americans call it?
Well it’s just a bit of a technical difference to confuse us poor gardeners. 
Cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant and coriander refers to the seeds.


In Australia we call the leaves and the seeds coriander and some people even call it Chinese parsley.
  • So coriander leaf is nothing else but cilantro.
People either hate it or love Coriander because it does have a pungent citrus flavour to the leaves.

  • Coriander flowers belong in the Apiaceae or carrot family, where Parsley, dill and carrots belong.
A Bit of History
Coriander has been grown for over 3,000 years.
Did you know that about half a litre of coriander seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen?
Because this plant doesn’t grow wild in Egypt, this suggests that coriander was grown in the gardens of ancient Egyptians.
The Chinese once believed it gave you immortality and in the Middle ages it was used as part of a love potions.
  • Coriander is an annual herb because it flowers, sets seed then dies in under a year..
So why should we grow Coriander.
Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.

In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make Green Curry paste. 

I just mash it up in a food processor when I make that paste. 

Now here’s a big tip:
  • Always grow coriander from seed, sown in the exact spot you want it to grow as it absolutely HATES being transplanted.
  • Transplanting coriander stresses it so that it goes straight to seed and then it dies. And you never get any leaves at all!
  • Coriander gets a has a big taproot as it grows so growing it in a pot won’t work either, it’ll go straight to seed as well., 

TO GROW IT FROM SEED..

For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
Cool temperate zones, October to November,

  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.
  • Coriander takes a couple of weeks to germinate, so go do it after my program. 
  • Coriander grow fairly big, about 50 cm or 2 feet tall. 

Big Tip: Grasshoppers don’t like coriander, so plant it around the spinach to stop the grasshoppers eating holes in the leaves.


  • You want about 5 cm between the plants if you grow it for the leaves..
Leave a few plants to go to seed, yes, on purpose so you have a continuous supply. 
Not only that, it’s a good idea to leave in a few plants that have gone to flower because the Coriander flowers are an important food source for beneficial insects, especially little parasitic wasps and predatory flies.


  • When your plants is big enough, take the leaves off from the base of the plant. Just make sure the plant is big enough to cope and leave some leaves on it so it can continue to grow.
  • As soon as that flower stalk appears, your coriander plant stops making more leaves.
  • Just remember when coriander plants get stressed, or in hot weather, or once they reach a certain age, they stop making leaves and instead start growing a tall flower stalk.

Keep watering and feeding your coriander plants well, and wait for the flower to develop and set seeds.
In hot weather this may take as little as 4 - 6 weeks from when you first put the seed in the ground.

Storing Coriander or Cilantro
Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored in the refrigerator in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. Use as early as possible since it loses flavour and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
Harvesting coriander seed :
Just wait till the flower heads are dry. And now you should have enough coriander seed to cook with and still plenty left to throw around your garden next year!
It may look a bit untidy, but it's only for a short few weeks.



Why Is It Good For You?
Coriander contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fibre which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
It’s also rich in many vital vitamins like folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin- A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Coriander leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
Coriander is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K

THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY






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