The Story of Coriander


Are Coriander and Cilantro the same thing?

This is a question that often comes up at SpiceTopia. And the answer is “Kinda!” 

In California, cilantro is readily available as a fresh leafy green year round, is inexpensive, and is found at most markets and grocery stores in large bunches. It’s not uncommon to find this fresh herb in sauces, marinades, and used as a garnish.  Like elsewhere in the United States, cilantro refers to the fresh leafy part of the plant. Coriander comes from the same plant, but refers to just the seeds. 

In many other parts of the world, such as Europe, coriander refers to the entire plant. So you’ll find fresh coriander, what we would call cilantro, and coriander seeds or coriander spice, which we just call coriander. 

To make things just a bit more puzzling, there are many versions of coriander around the world. The cilantro and coriander that is most commonly used in the United States is related to the parsley plant. 

The History of Coriander 

Coriander is an ancient herb and spice with mentions dotted throughout antique texts. 

In the Old Testament, the life-sustaining manna given to the Isrealites was compared to the flowers found on cilantro plants! 

Ancient Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher, Pliny wrote that the best coriander was found in Egypt where the seeds were used as snake bite antidotes! 

Egyptian Coriander is different from the Coriander most common in the United States. Its oval shape stands out next to the perfectly round coriander found on SpiceTopia’s SpiceWall. The flavor also tends to be a bit milder with less peppery bite.

And in fact, coriander’s history in Egypt dates back at least to King Tut’s rule as coriander seeds were found in his tomb. 

What Does Coriander Taste Like?

Coriander Seed has a sweet mellow flavor with hints of pepper and citrus. This sweet citrusy flavor pairs well with fruit as well as savory dishes. In The United States, coriander most often appears in pickles! 

In North Africa and across the Middle East, coriander is important to spice blends such as Harissa, Ras el Hanout, Baharat, and Dukka Spice Blend. In both these regions, Coriander is used to flavor vegetables, stews, and grilled meats. 

In England, coriander is a foundational spice of Mixed Sweet Spice which is used to flavor cakes and cookies. We find it is also lovely with fruits baked into desserts such as apple cobblers, plum tarts, and roasted pears. 

In India, coriander is an important spice used in many dishes and it is also an integral part of curry powders which have carried Indian flavors around the world. Coriander can be found in all of SpiceTopia’s Curry Powders.

Mexican cuisine often pairs coriander and cumin together. Coriander’s sweet and citrus notes balance cumin’s earthy flavor. 

Does Cilantro and Coriander Taste Like Soap? Or Is The Cilantro Gene Real?

Yes, cilantro tastes like soap to some people! There is a gene that affects the perception of the taste of aldehydes found in cilantro leaves. For those with this specific gene, cilantro is not a pleasant herb to eat. 

But we have good news when it comes to the Cilantro Gene and Coriander! Fortunately, this phenomenon doesn’t extend to coriander seeds! So, even if cilantro tastes like soap to you, coriander seeds will not have that same detergent taste!  

How To Use Coriander

Coriander loses its potency very quickly after being ground, so buying whole coriander is best.. It’s relatively easy to grind or crush. We suggest grinding it in a pepper grinder or crushing it with a mortar and pestle. If neither of these are available, simply crush it with the bottom of a bottle or jar on a cutting board. 

Coriander is an important spice in many of the spice and herb blends found at SpiceTopia! 

Coriander is also used in many of our favorite recipes! 

Coriander is a versatile spice that is easy to use and full of flavor! How will you use it in your kitchen?

If you enjoy learning about spices and bringing new flavors to your kitchen, then SpiceScription may be for you! Our monthly subscription box features a new spice each month along with 3 exclusive recipes to help bring creativity to your kitchen! 

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The Story of Coriander

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