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Scientific classification
Species:C. sativum

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Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Latin American, Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the most commonly used in cooking. Coriander belongs to the parsley or carrot family, Apiaceae.



The name coriander derives from Latin coriandrum, which was first noted by Pliny. The Latin work devires in turn from Greek corys, a "bedbug", plus -ander, "resembling", and refers to the supposed similarity of the scent of the crushed leaves to the distinctive odor of bedbugs (which we have largely forgotten in this age of insecticides).



The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, cilantro (in the United States, from the Spanish name for the plant), dhania (in the Indian subcontinent, and increasingly, in Britain), Chinese parsley or Mexican parsley. The leaves have a very different taste from the seeds, similar to parsley but "juicier" and with citrus-like notes. Some people instead perceive an unpleasant "soapy" taste and/or a rank smell. This is believed to be a genetic trait, but has yet to be fully researched.

The fresh leaves are an essential ingredient in many Asian chutneys and Mexican salsas and guacamole. Chopped coriander leaves are also used as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dal and many curries, but should never themselves be cooked as heat destroys their delicate flavor quickly.

Coriander leaves were formerly common in European cuisine but nearly disappeared before the modern period. Today Europeans usually eat coriander leaves only in dishes that originated from foreign cuisines.

The fresh coriander herb is best stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers, after chopping off the roots. The leaves do not keep well and should be eaten quickly, as they lose their aroma when dried or frozen.


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Dried coriander fruits

The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds or simply as coriander. They have have a lemonny citrus flavor when crushed. It is also described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured. They are usually dried but can be eaten green. Ground coriander is a major ingredient in curry powder, certain Belgian-style beers and other aromatic dishes.

If the spice is bought whole in a non-dried form, it can be dried in the sun. Most commonly, it is bought as whole dried seeds, but can be bought in ground form. Store coriander seed in a tightly sealed container away from sunlight and heat. For maximum flavor use within 6 months and keep for no more than 1 year. It can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly to enhance the aroma before grinding it in an electric grinder or with a mortar and pestle; ground coriander seeds lose their flavour quickly in storage and are best only ground as needed.

Coriander seed is a key spice in Indian curries and garam masala (Hindi name: dhania), which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin.

Outside of Asia, coriander seed is an important spice for sausages in Germany and South Africa (see boerewors). In Russia and Central Europe coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread as an alternative to caraway. Apart from the uses just noted, coriander seeds are rarely used in European cuisine today, though they were more important in former centuries.

Coriander seed is also used in Ethiopian and Arabic cooking.


The oldest coriander fruits were discovered in the Nahal Hemar cave in Israel. They are considered to be over 8,000 years old. Some Sanskrit texts talk of coriander's cultivation in ancient India nearly 7,000 years ago although there are but a few plant fossils exist to back up the literature.[1] (

It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean area, and in Southwest Europe. Some believe its use began as far back as 5,000 BC, and there is evidence of its use by the Egyptians. In the Bible, Exodus, chapter 16, verse 31, it says that: "And the house of Israel called the name there of Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey". Coriander was brought to the United States of America in 1670 and was one of the first spices cultivated by early settlers.

Coriander seed and leaf was very widely used in medieval European cuisine, due to its ability to make spoiled meats palatable by "masking" rotten flavors. Even today, coriander seed is an important ingredient in many sausage products.


Growing in containers

The size of your container is pretty important it should be 20-30cm (8-12 in) wide and about 15cm (6 in) deep. Growing it in a window box is recommended and it can be grown along with other herbs such as dill, chives and rosemary

Plant the seeds straight into the container in groups of 3 to 8 at 10cm (4in) apart the best time will be in the spring. Thin them when they are large enough to handle. Feed them with a bit of liquid feed about once a fortnight from the time the flowering stem is half grown until the time when the flowers fade. To maintain a good crop keep picking the mature leaves and ensure good drainage with plenty of broken crockery bits, bark or chippings. Do not over water the plant in the evening as coriander does not like wet 'feet'.[2] (

Other meanings

Coriander is also an open source computer program licenced under the GNU General Public Licence. It is used to capture and control firewire cameras on the Linux Operating System.

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