culantro – open source image
cilantro – open source image
by Angela Lugo
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum L.,Apiaceae) is both a cooking and medicinal herb well known in the Caribbean, West Indies and the Far East. It is a biennial herb indigenous to continental tropical America and the West Indies. The herb is commonly found along moist or shaded pathways and in heavy soils. In these areas, it proliferates like a weed. However, here in the United States, outside ethnic neighborhoods, it is not very well known. Most confuse it with the now ubiquitous cilantro, found in tacos, salads and many things Mexican. Some of its common names are spiny coriander, shado beni and bhandhania (Trinidad and Tobago), chadron benee (Dominca), Coulante (Haiti), recao (Puerto Rico) and Fitweed (Guyana).
In Vietnam and the rest of Asia, culantro is also known and is most popular in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, where it is commonly used with or instead of cilantro for soups, noodle dishes, and curries. I have not found how recao got to these regions, but there is a huge presence of Indians and Asians in the islands mentioned above, so it is easy to see how it could have been transported to the Asian countries. Today, because of the presence of increasingly large West Indian, Latin American, and Asian immigrant communities in metropolises of the US, Canada and the UK, there has been created a large market for culantro, and large quantities are today exported from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Trinidad in the West Indies to these areas.
Every time I cut or cook with recao, my mind flashes back to my childhood. As a child, I and my family moved to New York from the island of Puerto Rico. In the city, we continued our food traditions, gravitating towards bodegas that had all our spices and herbs to flavor our foods or concoct remedies for various ailments. Recao was definitely something we always had in our kitchen. Every two weeks my mother would buy onions, garlic, ajicitos dulces (sweet miniature peppers), tomatoes, cumin and recao for our sofrito, the seasoning that goes into everything, in our beans, soups, fricassees, yellow rice, stews, etc. My mother would peel the onions and garlic, cube and chop everything else and put through a manual meat grinder (the food processor of yore). She would then season with salt , cumin, oregano and place in a glass jar and refrigerate. She always had extra recao leaves which she would add to the various dishes at the last minute for added flavor. So, recao was not an exotic herb for me; it was a staple.
Recao or culantro has an aroma and taste similar to the popular cilantro. In fact, if cooks cannot find culantro for sofrito, they substitute cilantro. However, recao has a stronger smell to it and its leaves are tougher. Also known as broad leaf or spiny coriander, its leaves can grow to up to 10 inches, are long and broad with serrated edges. It can grow in poor soil with little fertilizer, but it also does well in pots. Culantro plants are hardy and prefer partial shade, even though they tolerate full sun. Some growers feel that cutting the shoot that contains the seeds will encourage leaf production, others do not. To harvest, cut the leaves at the soil line with a knife or scissors, leaving the new leaves to continue growth. I usually just pinch the leaves I need for a dish and scissors or a knife when harvesting a big bunch. A word of caution, its spiny leaves sometimes makes it uncomfortable to harvest without gloves. Also, because of its tough leaves, if I do put it in my salad, I cut it into thin ribbons; otherwise, I use cilantro and leave the culantro for teas or cooking. The plant throws out what looks like a green straw with a floret at the end; this floret is what contains the seeds which can be stored for subsequent plantings. In the tropics, it is self seeding.
In the garden, recao attracts lady bugs, lacewings and other beneficial insects. It also seems that aphids do not like this herb.
Culantro is rich in iron, riboflavin, calcium, and carotene. Its leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, B2, B1 and C, powerful antioxidants which help vitality and immunity. They also contain phosphorous for strong bones.
Medicinally, the leaves and roots are boiled for fevers, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, colds and convulsions. The water is taken for pneumonia, flu, diabetes, constipation, and malaria fever. In chutneys, the leaves are used as an appetite stimulant. Culantro is anti-inflammatory and contains large amounts of plant sterols, so it can help with asthma, arthritis, and swelling. It also contains trimethylbenzaldehydes, a powerful pain reliever. Culantro tea can sooth earaches, stomachaches and headaches. In some countries, culantro is also called Fitweed because it is said to help prevent or sooth away epileptic fits.
Since the United States and other parts of the world do not know about culantro, there is not a lot written about this herb. However, like cilantro, culantro is slowly becoming better known and easier to find. Many Asian farmers markets carry it, and definitely, you can find it in any latino market. If you like cilantro, you need to try culantro.
2 big Spanish onions
1 head of garlic
2 small tomatoes
1 red pepper
15 leaves of recao
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Rough chop in food processor
Put in glass jar and refrigerate
A heaping tablespoon will usually be enough for any dish for two people. However, depending on your taste, you may add more to your dish. This should be enough sofrito for about 10 servings. It stores well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. But, if I am going away or make a bigger batch, I freeze it.
When making any dish, heat some olive oil, put 1 tablespoon of sofrito in the heating oil, add tomato sauce or paste, stir and slowly sauté. After 5 minutes, just add to your dish. If you like a fresher recao taste, add a couple of leaves about 2 minutes before the dish is done. Enjoy!
Angela Lugo is an Associate Professor of English at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. She is also on the board of Raices Cultural Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to eco-culture, seed saving and eco/cultural archivism. She was born in San Sebastian, a small mountain town in the island of Puerto Rico, and comes from a long line of curanderos; her grandmother Cecilia was the go to person for folk and natural remedies for both spiritual and physical ailments. Angela grew up hearing about the native herbs of the island and their uses from both her grandmother and her father. Today, she continues to learn and research about these foods and herbs, both for culinary and medicinal uses.
-Benedetti, Maria Dolores Hajosy. Earth & Spirit Healing Lore and More from Puerto Rico. Maplewood, NJ: Waterfront Press, 1989.
-Nunez, Esteban Melendez, Ph.D. Plantas Medicinales De Puerto Rico. San Juan: Editorial De La Universidad De Puerto Rico, 1982.
- What Is Culantro Used For: Learn How To Grow Culantro Herbs
- What is Culantro Used For?
- How to Grow Culantro
- Culantro Plant Care
- How to Grow Culantro From Seeds
- How to grow recao seeds
- Planting and Care
- What is Chadon Beni
- Cooking with Chadon Beni
What Is Culantro Used For: Learn How To Grow Culantro Herbs
I love to cook, and I like to mix it up and cook food from other countries. In my search for a new idea, I was looking through a book on Puerto Rican food and found some references to culantro herbs. At first I thought they meant ‘cilantro,’ and the cookbook author had a terrible editor, but no, it really was culantro herb. This got me curious because I had never heard of it. Now that I obviously know what culantro is used for, how do you grow culantro and what other culantro plant care is needed? Let’s find out.
What is Culantro Used For?
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a biennial herb common throughout the Caribbean and Central America. We don’t see it much in the United States unless, of course, you are eating cuisine from one of these areas. It is sometimes called Puerto Rican coriander, Black Benny, saw leaf herb, Mexican coriander, spiny coriander, fitweed,
and spiritweed. In Puerto Rico where it is a staple, it is called recao.
The name ‘culantro’ looks like ‘cilantro’ and it belongs in the same plant family – as it happens, it smells like cilantro and can be used in place of cilantro, albeit with a somewhat stronger flavor.
It is found growing wild in moist areas. The plant is small with lance shaped, dark green, 4- to 8-inch long leaves forming a rosette. The plant is used in salsas, softrito, chutneys, ceviche, sauces, rice, stews and soups.
How to Grow Culantro
Culantro is slow to start from seed but, once established, will yield fresh leaves until the first frost. Because the seed is so tiny, it should be started inside. Use bottom heat to facilitate germination.
Plant after the last frost in the spring. Transplant seedlings either into pots or directly into the ground in an area with as much shade as possible and keep them consistently moist.
Plants can be harvested about 10 weeks after seeding. Culantro is similar to lettuce in that it thrives in the spring but, like lettuce, bolts with the hot temps of summer.
Culantro Plant Care
In the wild, culantro growing conditions for thriving plants are shaded and wet. Even when the culantro plants are kept in shade, they tend to flower, a leafless stalk with spiky light green blossoms. Pinch the stalk or cut it off to encourage additional foliage growth. Mimic the natural growing conditions as much as possible, keeping the plant in the shade and consistently moist.
Culantro plant care is nominal, as it is relatively pest and disease free. It is said to attract beneficial insects as well as defend against aphids.
Culantro is one of those herbs I’d always paused and wondered over in stores, but never taken the time to really investigate, much less buy and use. While it’s widely employed in Caribbean, Latin American, and Southeast Asian cooking, it’s not something I tend to find in my East Atlanta Kroger—it’s more the province of a Buford Highway Farmers Market—and it’s certainly not as ubiquitous here as the very similarly named, but not at all similar-looking, cilantro.
The plant, Eryngium foetidum, which also answers to fitweed, ngò gai, and a handful of other names (in addition to sometimes being referred to as, yes, “cilantro”), is native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, but is grown in tropical zones worldwide. It produces long, pretty, true-green, sawtooth-edged leaves that smell very strongly of, well, cilantro. It’s like a concentrated dose of cilantro aroma and flavor, intense enough to waft up from a grocery bag or smack you in the face as you move it from the refrigerator shelf to the counter. (Apparently whoever gave it its Latin name didn’t care for this quality, since foetidum means “stink”; I can attest that if you like the smell of cilantro, you should find nothing objectionable about its cousin.)
As such, according to culinary experts I sought out to fill in the gaps of my ignorance, it can be used in many of the same contexts you’d find cilantro, with a couple of important distinctions. First, because culantro is more potent, you’ll need to use less of it. Second, it’s suitable for long-cooked dishes in which cilantro would impart bitterness or lose its more delicate flavor.
Enrique Awe, chef at the Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant in San Ignacio, Belize, uses culantro in beef and chicken soups, rice and beans, and stewed beans. “It offers a very nice, herby, citrusy taste,” he says. “Also, the flavor blends very well with coconut milk.” He recommends tearing or cutting the leaves before adding them to stews to release better flavor.
Illyanna Maisonet, who writes the Cocina Boricua column for the San Francisco Chronicle (making her the first Puerto Rican food columnist in the country), notes that culantro is an essential ingredient in Puerto Rican recaíto, a kind of sofrito that includes no tomato and forms the base for many Puerto Rican dishes. Whole leaves of culantro, also called recao in Puerto Rico, can be added directly to your blender for recaíto, or they can be cut into chiffonade and added to salads or used as a garnish, Maisonet says.
After picking up a package of culantro at the Lake City International Farmers Market (if you haven’t figured this out by now, “farmers market” often means something quite different in Atlanta), I experimented by making a mini batch of Kenji’s basic guacamole, substituting culantro for cilantro. I started with about half of the volume of cilantro called for in the recipe, but ended up adding a little more than that after tasting for seasoning.
Sneaking a few bites of the raw herb, I found it had a slight sharpness, almost pepperiness, that cilantro doesn’t. And, real talk from a far-from-pro cook: I liked that the broad, flattish, relatively sturdy leaves are easier to cut than cilantro’s thin, frilly ones, and don’t require stripping. (Not to mention the fact that I had to chop a smaller amount overall.)
Culantro is still rare in the dominant supermarket chains of the continental US; your best bets for finding it are Asian and Latin American markets. (“Check that one local Asian market that is known to carry everything,” Maisonet advises.) After purchasing, wrap the leaves loosely in a damp paper towel, place them in an unsealed plastic bag, and use within about a week.
One last note: Attempting to confirm or deny this is beyond the scope of this article (a.k.a. the time I have to get it in on deadline), but a few murmurs on the internet report that culantro doesn’t taste soapy to some people, as cilantro does. The two plants belong to the same family, but are not related beyond that, so it seems plausible that culantro wouldn’t necessarily trigger the same perception of soapiness. If you’re a cilantro-hater who’s tested out culantro as a substitute, do your fellow cilantro-haters a solid and let us all know if it worked out for you, or if you’re back to swapping in parsley.
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How to Grow Culantro From Seeds
No, we don’t mean cilantro, but culantro – this is not a typo! When we first read about this herb we seriously thought the writer meant to say cilantro instead of culantro, but as it turns out, culantro IS an actual herb! If you’re curious about how to grow culantro from seeds, keep reading!
Culantro is a biennial herb common through the Caribbean and Central America. Also called Puerto Rican coriander, Black Benny, saw leaf herb, Mexican coriander, spiny coriander, fitweed, and spiritweed.
It’s very true and culantro and cilantro are related because they have the same flavor and scent, although culantro has a stronger taste.
The culantro herb looks almost like a weed, growing to about 4-8 inches in height, bright green, and with saw-like ridges on its outer leaves.
Culantro is often used in culinary dishes throughout Latin America. It is used just like cilantro is, whether it be used fresh, in soups, or stews.
- Start culantro seeds indoors until they start to germinate.
- You can use a variety of soils to grow culantro in, but drained sandy loams work best.
- Amend the soil with some organic matter or manure to give the plant necessary nutrients.
- Keep the soil moist at all times, but never water logged.
- Plant outdoors after the last frost in spring. Be sure there is no more risk of frost and that the soil is warm.
- Transplant either directly into the ground or in pots. We recommend growing culantro in pots or containers to contain the herb and also prevent weeds.
- Keep your culantro plants away from full sun – culantro prefers partial shade instead.
- Plants can usually be harvested about 10 weeks after seeding.
- Culantro is much like lettuce where it will sprout and grow in the spring or fall, but will bolt in hot summers.
- Keep the plants in the shade.
- Soil must be moist at all times to mimic conditions from the wild.
- Culantro tends to flower, so make sure to pinch off the stalk or cut it off to encourage additional growth.
So now that you know how to grow culantro and what it actually is, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to planting!
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24.09.2019| admin| 1 Comments
How to grow recao seeds
When we first read about this herb we seriously thought the writer meant to say cilantro instead of culantro, but as it turns out, culantro IS an actual herb! If you’re . Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a Perennial Coriander substitute with a . Growing Culantro from seed Urban Agriculture, Urban Farming, Growing Herbs. Cilantro and culantro are grown from seeds. You can start cilantro indoors or out, but culantro is usually started indoors with a heat mat because it takes a long.
Learn how to grow culantro from seed by following our detailed instructions for growing saw-tooth herb at home in containers or in the organic. Some seeds take longer to germinate than others. The average germination time for culantro is anywhere from 20 to 25 days, although I have seen my seedlings. Like its close relative cilantro, the plant tends to stretch tall and go to seed in the lengthening days of spring. While culantro and cilantro look different, the leaf.
What Is Culantro Used For: Learn How To Grow Culantro Herbs In the wild, culantro growing conditions for thriving plants are shaded and. When we first read about this herb we seriously thought the writer meant to say cilantro instead of culantro, but as it turns out, culantro IS an actual herb! If you’re . Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a Perennial Coriander substitute with a . Growing Culantro from seed Urban Agriculture, Urban Farming, Growing Herbs.
This way I don’t have to grow as much from seed, and should I I was surprised to discover lots of little culantro plants growing wild there. Culantro is hardy in zones 8 through 11 where it is grown as a biennial. The rest of us grow it as an annual. The plants grow 6 to 10 inches tall, taller in the shade . Culantro grows naturally in shaded moist heavy soils near cultivated areas. Plants are usually started from seed which germinate in about 30 days, and for.
Culantro is a biennial or short-lived perennial native to tropical America. It is grown mainly for its leaves which are used as a culinary herb in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Plants grow 8 to 40 cm tall with leaves arranged in a spiral pattern around a central stem. Leaves are 5-32 cm in length, 1-4 cm wide, with small spines along margin. They have a similar aroma as cilantro (Coriandrum sativum).
The aromatic leaves are used in cooking, in condiments, and medicinally (many uses including treatment for fever and flu).
- Elevation – up to 1700 m
- Rainfall – requires watering or rainfall to maintain moist conditions
- Soil Types – prefers fertile, well-drained soil with pH 6-7.8
- Temperature Range – intolerant of frost; seeds germinate well in 24°C soil
- Day Length Sensitivity – flowering is initiated by increasing day length
- Light – prefers partial shade
Culuntro is typically propagated from seed, but will also grow from cuttings. Seeds are very small and should therefore be sown on moist soil with little or no covering. Seeds germinate three to four weeks after sowing. Thin as needed to result in 12 to 15 cm between plants. To prolong and maximize leaf production, grow the plants under shade, fertilize the soil, and prune the flower heads. Culantro grows well in containers.
Harvesting and Seed Production
Harvest the most tender leaves, leaving three topmost leaves intact. The leaves can be harvested every one to two weeks until flowering begins. The leaves wilt quickly so should be used soon after harvest. Leaves are added to soups and curries and as an ingredient in salsa and seasonings (e.g., sofrito or recaito in Puerto Rico). Seeds should be harvested and stored when mature/dry. Harvesting prevents unwanted volunteer plants that grow as a result of seeds that fall to the ground.
Pests and Diseases
It is largely pest free. Root-knot nematodes may become a problem over time.
Cooking and Nutrition
Culantro is used as a seasoning for vegetables, sauces, meats, soups, and chutneys. It is often used interchangeably with cilantro. Culantro is a good source of calcium, iron, vitamin A, and riboflavin.
Culantro leaves. Rebecca Jordi, UF/IFAS.
While the appeal of cilantro’s flavor may be up for debate, one thing we do know is that cilantro is a cool-season herb. As the temperatures rise, culantro is a savory alternative. This herb grows best in summer heat and thus fills the flavor void for cilantro lovers who still want garden-fresh flavor.
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) is a biennial herb commonly grown in the Caribbean and Central America. In Puerto Rico, where it is used in a variety of dishes, it is called recao. Other names for this herb include Puerto Rican coriander, black Benny, saw leaf herb, Mexican coriander, fitweed, or spirit weed. Here’s a fun fact: culantro is a key ingredient in the popular sauce sofrito, which also includes garlic, onions, and peppers.
Culantro is a member of the same plant family as cilantro (Apiaceae), but it has a very different appearance with long, tough, green leaves. The leaf margins are serrated or toothed, which is why it is often called saw leaf herb. The leaves smell similar to cilantro but produce a stronger flavor.
Planting and Care
Culantro grows best in an area with moist, well-drained soil; it is also moderately salt tolerant. Contrary to most herbs and vegetables, culantro does best in a shady area. Shade also aides in keeping your plant from bolting, that is, producing its cream-colored flowers and going to seed. Once a herb has gone to seed, it becomes undesirable as a culinary plant.
You can grow culantro in a container or planted directly into the ground. Planting directly in your garden can potentially provide you with a longer harvest period. Culantro is usually planted from seed; it takes about three weeks for seeds to germinate.
Beyond providing you with a flavorful herb, culantro may even attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and green lacewings. Big bonus!
You can harvest leaves for use at any time. Many people prefer to harvest culantro by removing the oldest leaves, which are closest to the base of the plant, and leave the younger leaves to mature. Keep in mind that culantro leaves do not store well, so it’s best to harvest only what you need. Additionally, whole leaves can be tough, so it’s best used finely chopped.
For more information on growing culantro in your area, contact your local county Extension office.
- Fact Sheet: Culantro — UF/IFAS Extension Nassau County
Also on Gardening Solutions
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum), native to Central and South America, is used in cuisines both in its native countries as well as in Asia. It is known by many different names in many different countries around the world. In fact, each country in Central and South America has its own name for this plant. In India, it has a unique name in each region. Most cuisines use just the leaves. Thai cuisine uses both the leaves and the roots.
Medicinally, it has been used for a variety illnesses from epilepsy to burns, fevers, snake bites and constipation.
Culantro tastes like cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) but much stronger. It can be used as a substitute for cilantro. It doesn’t, however, look like cilantro. The leaves are longer and larger and grow in a rosette. Culantro prefers partial shade unlike sun loving cilantro. It bolts in hot weather like cilantro, but will bolt later if grown in partial shade.
Culantro is hardy in zones 8 through 11 where it is grown as a biennial. The rest of us grow it as an annual. The plants grow 6 to 10 inches tall, taller in the shade. Unlike most herbs, culantro needs rich soil and high nitrogen fertilizer.
It is easily grown from seed. Surface sow your seeds indoors 60 days before your last frost. The soil should be kept moist and at a temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Farenheit. A heat mat will keep your soil warm. You will need to be patient because it will take 21 to 30 days for the seeds to germinate. The seedlings can be transplanted into your garden 6 to 8 weeks after germination and after all danger of frost.
Culantro grows well in containers. You can either grow a single plant in a 1 gallon container or up to 3 plants in a 5 gallon container. Fertilize your containers weekly using fertilizer diluted to half strength.
You can begin harvesting leaves when your plants are 2 to 3 months old. You can harvest individual leaves or the entire plant by cutting it off just above the crown. The crown will re-grow new leaves which should be ready to harvest within a month.
In the ground, feed your plants every 2 weeks with a high-nitrogen fertilizer and remove flower stalks when they begin to appear. When the weather turns hot, the leaves will get tough and it’s a good idea to let the plant flower and set seed. In warmer climates, you can allow the seed to fall directly into your garden to germinate into a second crop. North of zone 8, gather the seed and save it to sow indoors next year.
Shadow Benny is a wild growing Caribbean plant that goes under many names. Chadon, Shadon, Shado Beni, Mexican Coriander, Sawtooth Coriander, Fitweed, and Spiritweed. It has even more names in Asia, but in the United States, you will most commonly find it called Culantro.
It grows best in rich, moist soil, and likes partial shade, but it is pretty forgiving of wherever you plant it. In cooler temperatures it is an annual, but here in Florida, it grows all of the time. It is naturally pest resistant and is somewhere between a low maintenance to a no maintenance plant. Mine has been in the same spot for two years and the only thing I’ve ever done to it is pinch off the spiny flower blossoms now and then.
So what is it good for? It is used all over the world medicinally for treating flu, burns, constipation, diarrhea, fever, chills, worms, snake bite, scorpion stings, and even diabetes. Its name fitweed comes from its use in treating seizures and epilepsy.
It is high in calcium, iron, carotene, and riboflavin and acts as an appetite stimulant, so it has many culinary uses as well. The taste is very similar to cilantro, but stronger and it can be used in chutneys, marinades, sauces, salsas, meat and vegetable dishes.
I’m partial to it because for me, it was my first “light bulb on” plant. About 10 years ago I was trying to get some tips from another gardener about growing cilantro in Central Florida. She asked me why I was growing cilantro instead of culantro when they taste the same and culantro is easier to grow. She gave me some cuttings and there it was, light bulb on. If there are two plants with similar properties and one is easy to grow where you live and one is difficult, it just makes sense to grow the easy one.
What is Chadon Beni
Chadon beni or shado beni is a herb with a strong pungent scent and flavor that is used extensively in Caribbean cooking, more so Trini cooking. The scientific name for the herb is ‘Eryngium foetidum’ but in Trinidad and Tobago the popular “market” names for chadon beni are culantro or bhandhania.
Culantro is distinct from cilantro or coriander (another herb) which carries the scientific name ‘coriandrum sativum‘ and should not be confused. The confusion comes from the similarity in the two herbs’ scents. The difference between Chadon beni (or culantro) and cilantro is that chadon beni (or culantro) has a stronger and more pungent scent. It should also be noted that chadon beni belongs to the botanical family Apiaceae where parsley, dill, fennel, and celery, also belong to this botanical family. An aromatic family at that I would also add!
The leaves of the chandon beni are spearlike, serrated, and stiff spined and the dark, green, shiny leaves are generally 3-6 inches long. Each plant has a stalk, usually 16 inch tall, with smaller prickly leaves and a cone shaped greenish flower. When harvesting the herb leaves much care has to be taken because the prickly leaves of the flower can make your skin itch. But that can easily be combated by wearing gloves or gently moving aside the flower stalk while picking the the leaves.
The leaves of the chadon beni are also rich in iron, carotene, riboflavin, and calcium, and are an excellent source of vitamin A,B, C. This herb also has medicinal properties. The leaves of the plant is a good remedy for high blood pressure, and epilepsy. In some Caribbean countries it is called fitweed because of its anti-convulsant properties. It is a stimulant and has anti-inflamatory and analgestic properties. As a matter of fact, the whole plant could be used to cure headache, diarrhea, flu, fever, vomiting, colds, malaria, constipation, and pneumonia.
The Many Names of Chadon Beni
The plant goes by a number of other names such false coriander, black benny, fitweed, duck-tongue herb, saw leaf herb, sawtooth coriander, spiny coriander, and long coriander. In Hindi it is referred to as ‘Bhandhanya’. Different countries also have its own name for this herb. Some examples are:
- Alcapate (El Salvador)
- Cilantro extranjero, cilantro habanero, parejil de tabasco (Mexico)
- Ngo gai (Vietnam)
- Pak chi farang or pak chee (Thailand)
- Racao or recao (Puerto Rico and Spain)
- Sea holly (Britain)
- Jia yuan qian (China)
- Fitweed or spiritweed (Jamaica)
- Langer koriander (Germany)
- Stinkdistel (Netherland)
- Shado beni or Chadon beni (Trinidad and Tobago)
Chadon beni grows better in hot humid climates. It can be grown from the seed, but it is slow to germinate. This plant will have to get full sun to part shade, and placed in fertile, moist, and well-drained soil.
Cooking with Chadon Beni
In Trinidad and Tobago, almost all our recipes call for chadon beni. The herb is widely used to flavor many dishes and is the base herb used when seasoning meat. It is used in marinades, sauces, bean dishes, soups, chutneys, snacks, and with vegetables. One popular chutney we love to make on the island is “Chadon Beni Chutney” which is usually served with a favourite trini snack called pholourie (pronounced po-lor-rie). If you cannot find culantro in your market, you can always substitute it with cilantro, but you will have to increase the amount of cilantro used or search for it by its many names as listed above.
This is one of my favorite herbs in cooking and with such flavourful and health qualities, I can’t do without this simple but extraordinary herb: Chadon Beni.
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