Coriander or Cilantro

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Cilantro or Coriander Herb, with roots

Coriander or Cilantro - it's one of those occasions where the British are divided from the Americans by our shared language!

Coriander has an earthy, warming pungency that is grassy, lemony and appetizing taste. These flavours are less prominent in the dried rather than the fresh herb.

Coriander is popular over most of Asia. It is used added to the end of curries and across Asia regionally - e.g. in India, and is indispensable in Thailand for green curry paste, Vietnam and parts of China, where the chopped coriander leaves appear as decorations on nearly every dish (sometimes combined with or substituted by peppermint or Vietnamese coriander).

Fresh coriander is often sold complete with its roots. Chop the stems as well as the leaves to get all the flavour, and the roots (if cleaned and dethreaded) are full of strong flavours. Thai food uses the whole plant - the leaves and roots are needed for Thai green curry paste, crushed together with garlic and pepper.

Add coriander leaf to salads, rice (before serving) or dry mince (in tablespoonfuls) for a change.

Tip: some people really cannot abide the taste, so be careful how liberally you use it if you don't know your guests.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN 9780778804932.
  • McVicar, J. (1999, republished 2006) Jekka's Complete Herb Book, Silverdale Books. ISBN 9781845093709.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN 9781465435989.