Cilantro in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Cilantro, known outside north America as coriander, is a plant used most commonly in cooking for its leaves and its dried seeds, although all parts of it are edible.
It is used extensively in a wide variety of cuisines. The raw leaves are an essential ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai and other south-east Asian cuisines and in Mexican and central American salsas. The cooked leaves are used in large quantities in Indian cooking. The dried seeds are also used, ground, throughout Indian cooking and are one of the core ingredients of garam masala. The whole roasted seeds are also sold as a snack in India.
The taste of fresh cilantro is difficult to describe but tends to be one that people either love or hate. Those who like it find it is a clean, palate cleansing taste. Detractors often describe it as tasting soapy.
Fresh cilantro should be used as soon as possible after picking. If you are using the seeds it is better to buy them whole and then toast them on a skillet/pan very briefly before grinding them yourself in a pestle or a spice grinder. Ground cilantro loses its taste quickly and does not store well.
North Americans use the word cilantro rather than coriander as their introduction to the ingredient came through Mexican cooking; the Spanish for coriander is cilantro.
Cilantro is also known as Chinese parsley, Mexican parsley and dhania in Indian and Sri Lanka. In Peru it is called culantro.