AN INTRODUCTION TO CILANTRO AND CORIANDER

Cilantro (also known as “Chinese parsley,“ “Coriander leaf” or “fresh coriander”) refers to the fresh leaf and Coriander which is the name for the seeds are parts of the same plant.

We tend to think of the leaves as “herbs” and the seeds and roots as “spices.” However, in much of the world, the entire plant, leaves, roots, and seeds, are known as Coriander.

Cilantro/coriander is an annual herb with feathery leaves and white umbrella flower heads, which means its entire life cycle, from planting, to maturity, to the end of its life, occurs in a single growing season. In other words, annual herbs must be started with new seedlings, or new seeds planted, every year.

Coriander (Cilantro) can be grown for both leaves and seeds. Varieties have been bred to be better at producing one or the other, so the variety you choose is important. A seed variety will produce seed quicker than a leaf variety, but once a plant ‘runs to seed’ it will stop leaf production. If you want coriander leaves for your cooking, this means you will have a shorter picking time. All varieties will eventually produce seed, but the leaf varieties will hold off for longer.

‘Calypso’ which is slow to bolt or ‘Cruiser’ which is bolt-resistant are the generally considered the best for herb production with an excellent ‘cut and come again’ habit,  while ‘Santo’ will produce larger flower heads, thereby producing more seed, and will run to seed more quickly. Whichever variety you, make sure to check if the seeds you are using are ‘seed’ or ‘leaf’ varieties and choose the type which best fits the way your family eats.

Bring your meals to life

Many ethics foods ranging from Latin American to Asian use cilantro and coriander in their daily and festive food. So, there is a wealth of recipe available across many cultures with which to experiment with your garden crop of cilantro and coriander.

How to use cilantro and coriander in the kitchen

As you may have gathered, cilantro is a feature in our favorite meals from around the world. The reason that recipes from all cultures use this herb is that the entire plant is edible.

The seeds, roots, stems, and leaves each have distinct flavors and uses.

Using cilantro (leaves, foliage, and stems)

  • Salads (use leaves)
  • Stews and sauces (use leaves)
  • Soups (use stems and/or leaves)

Using coriander (seeds)

  • Sauces (curries, etc.)
  • Flavoring meat

Using cilantro (Root)

  • Asian seasoning pastes with garlic, salt and green peppercorns
  • Cilantro roots are often combined vegetable and roots like carrots, scallion, tomato paste, coconut milk, citrus, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, Chile peppers
  • Cilantro roots are commonly used meats like chicken, lamb, and goat.

Cilantro And Food Culture Combinations

Cilantro and coriander (seeds) are used in a number of food cuisines including:

  • Chinese Cuisine
    • Star anise, coriander (seeds), fennel, garlic ginger, and pepper
  • Indian Cuisine
    • Cayenne, cardamom, coriander (seeds), cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, saffron, and turmeric
  • Mexico
    • Cilantro (herb, not seeds), cumin, garlic, and oregano
  • Thai Cuisine
    • Anis, basil, coriander (seeds), lemongrass, and mint

Related References