Shadon Beni, Culantro or Ban-Dhania in Trinidad and Tobago

Photo © Thing's Guyana

Today I was in the WACK Radio Shoutbox, chatting with some of my friends. The conversation shifted to mango chow and with that, we started chatting about our secret ingredient used to make the chow taste really good. Sharon aka ST mentioned Shandon Beni and for those who don't know it is indeed a magic herb and the ingredient that makes the mango chow 'light up the place' in other words the simple mango chow now takes on a wicked taste.

Sharon teased me and asked me to tell the Shoutbox people the name that Shadon Beni is known as in the United States - I was stumped, yorked, it was a wicked googly that had me mesmerized. I quickly googled it to save face but had to admit to Sharon that I really did not know the name - Culantro. However, I bet she did not know that the term Shadow Bennie is derived from the French Patois term Chadon Bene and that it literally means "blessed Herb".

Now don't get confused with the name and I don't mean cilantro. Culantro is a relative of cilantro, but culantro has a stronger impact when it comes to taste and smell. OK, so let's get down to the facts now. This versatile herb is known as Eryngium Foetidum and goes by many different names around the World. Some of the names include Chicoria, Escorzonera, False Coriander, Fit Bush, Fit Weed, Herbe a Fer, Herbe Puante, Jia Yuan Quian, Jintenan another special name that the Indian community in Trinidad like to use and that is Ban-Dhania (Wild Coriander), long coriander, false coriander, culantro or recao (Spanish), langer koriander (German), ngo gai (Vietnamese), pak chi farang (Thai),Chadron benee (Dominica), Alcapate (El Salvador), Cilantro habanero, Cilantro extranjero (Mexico) and bhandhanya (Hindi).

Now don't get confused because Cilantro and Coriander are two different plants in the same family. Trust the Indians in Trinidad to incorrectly name the plant. Now Shadon Benni is used to flavor just about any seasoning and is also used to make salsa. Some people make a Shadon Benni Pepper sauce to flavor foods and to use as a garnish in many dishes.

Shadon Benni is loved and used generously in Trinidad and Tobago. It does not matter what name you call it Shadon Benni, Ban-dhania, or Culantro this relative of cilantro with its pungent aroma brings out the best in foods not only spicing up a tired recipe but also helps improve the digestive process. Indeed, it is not only used in foods, but also has medicinal properties that stimulate appetite, combat colic and, ease stomach pain. Shadow Beni is said to be rich in calcium, iron, carotene, and riboflavin - such a versatile plant!
The "Things Guyana" web page has an excellent article on Shandon Beni; link to the site here: Do you know what is Culantro aka Shandon Beni aka Bandanya?

Shado Beni (aka Culantro, aka Chadon Beni) Explained.

I also found an excellent YouTube video showing how to make Shadow Beni Sauce and thought that it would be helpful to this article. Credit Foodie Nation for the video.

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