The Spice Rack: Coriander ~ The culinary and historically diverse spice, both whole and ground, has many uses in the modern global kitchen. I decided coriander was the best place to start this series, The Spice Rack. It’s probably one of the most confused ingredients when it comes to herbs and spices.
Confusion is often compounded when reading ‘foreign to you’ recipes (i.e. an American reading a UK, Mexican, or Indian recipe blogger post/cookbook or vice versa).
In America, the green leafy plant is called cilantro, but, it is also known globally as coriander. It’s also culinarily classified as an herb, so I won’t be talking about it much in this article since this is about spices, but I will eventually delve into it when I hit herbs.
Alright, so when you are reading cookbooks, recipe blogs, etc, and you see coriander or cilantro listed you have to look at the author/source to know what is actually needed:
- America: the fresh plant is called cilantro and seeds are dried and used either whole or ground but will be listed as coriander.
- UK: coriander is the plant Americans call cilantro and the dried seed, either whole or ground is generally referred to as coriander seed, then specifying whole or ground.
- Mexico: the plant is referred to as cilantro (which is the Spanish word for coriander) and the seed is referred to as such; coriander seed, then specifying whole or ground.
- India: the most straight forward and least confusing of all: fresh coriander leaves (which often includes some stems as well), coriander seed, and ground coriander.
- Asia (all cuisines in general): fresh coriander for the leaves and stems, coriander seed, then specifying whole or ground. If you see an ingredient listing for Chinese parsley, that is fresh coriander/cilantro as well.
Back when I was in college studying ancient and classical history, I was always fascinated by what food remains were discovered in tombs and other archaeological sites.
Coriander has been found in many places throughout time:
- Nahal Hemar Cave in Israel dating back to 7600-6000 BCE indicating its early culinary uses.
- King Tutankhamen’s (1332-23 BCE) body was treated with coriander during the mummification process which would point to an Ancient Egyptian knowledge/belief in its medicinal and/or spiritual properties.
- Coriander seeds have been found in many classical antiquity sites c. 8th C BCE-7th C CE (Greece and Roman strongholds throughout Europe) in both kitchen/hearth areas and in religious areas where they were used as sacraments or offerings to the gods.
- Made its way to the Americas in 1670 by the British colonists.
Coriander is now used in so many cuisines all over the world, making it one of the most versatile and well known. I have used coriander is countless recipes and I gathered a few recipes from fellow recipe developers to show how diverse the spice truly is.
- Spiced Roasted Potatoes by The Complete Savorist
- Herb Roasted Turkey by Bourbon and Honey
- Grilled Chicken with Fennel and Apricots by She Loves Biscotti
- Salmon Rillettes by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Charred Lemon, Rosemary and Coriander Gin & Tonic by Sprinkles and Sprouts
- Avocado on Toast with Truffle Salt by Shockingly Delicious
- Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles by Pinch and Swirl
- Goan Fish Curry by Caroline’s Cooking
- Spicy Tomato Chutney by Life Currents
- Shrimp Coconut Curry by Happy and Harried
- Slow Cooker White Bean and Chicken Chili by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Cilantro and Chili Ceviche Salad by Prepare and Nourish
- Malaysian Chicken Satay by Wok and Skillet
- Vegetarian Thai Red Curry by Caroline’s Cooking
- Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) by The Rustic Foodie
- Thai Curry Red Rice Soup by Kiipfit
- Pumpkin Hummus by The Complete Savorist
- Easy Moroccan Lentil Stew by I heart Vegetables
- Ethiopian Style Spicy Popcorn by WanderCooks
- Walnut and Black Sesame Dukkah by ChewTown
- Sheet Pan Moroccan Spiced Chicken by Bourbon and Honey