Have you ever wondered if coriander and cilantro are different things or the exact same one? We have a short answer and an extended one for you, so stick with us!
Coriander and cilantro are or aren’t different things, depending on where you're from, geographically. How can that be? Well, they mean the same thing in some countries, while others treat them as two completely different herbs.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding this herb, even though coriander and cilantro are just two different words for the same exact plant. Coriander, also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. The Latin name for this herb is Coriandrum sativum.
First attested in English in the late 14th century, the word ‘coriander’ derives from Old French: coriandre, which comes from its Latin name. Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, also deriving from coriandrum. This is the common term in North American English for coriander leaves.
Coriander and cilantro in different countries
In the United Kingdom
English people use the word coriander when they talk about the leaves and stalks of the plant. They simply call the seeds coriander seeds. In fact, the word ‘cilantro’ doesn’t exist in the UK.
In the United States
Americans call the leaves and stalks of the plant cilantro, while they refer to the seeds as coriander.
In India, the herb is extremely popular in cooking, and it is called ‘dhania’. Indians eat roasted coriander seeds, called 'dhana dal' as a snack.
How to read a recipe with coriander or cilantro
When you follow a recipe that calls for coriander or cilantro, first think about the origin of the recipe. Now you now know that Americans and British people have different names for the seeds. When it comes to the green stalks and leaves of the plant, things are simpler.
Fresh coriander is used for its fragrant, citrusy leaves. If you want to make salsa, chutneys, guacamole, and other Mexican dishes, cilantro is the fresh herb you're looking for. Look for leaves that are tender, aromatic, and very green. If it has no aroma, it will have no flavor. Coriander or cilantro, whatever you want to call it, should be kept in the refrigerator, covered loosely with a plastic bag. The leaves must be completely dry before you cover them. Here you can find out how to keep herbs fresh for a week or more.
You can find coriander seeds both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Add coriander seeds in garam masala and Indian curries. You can also use them for pickling vegetables, as a lot of people do.
You can also read about these 11 Basic Herbs to Keep in Your Kitchen at All Times.