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What is coriander? Is it a spice or an herb?


Coriander seeds and coriander powder
Maximilian Stock Ltd./Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Question: What is coriander? Is it a spice or an herb?
Coriander can refer to both an herb and a spice
Answer: Although the term coriander is used in much of the world in reference to both cilantro leaves and seeds, in the Americas, it generally refers to the dried cilantro seeds which are used as a spice both in whole form and ground. Coriander seeds have a bit of a spicy, citrus flavor and are available in the spice aisle of most markets.

You will need to pay special attention to the recipe instructions as well as to how the ingredient is listed to determine whether the author intends the seeds or the leaves to be used in the recipe.

Coriander is one of the oldest herbs and spices on record. Coriander was mentioned in the Bible, and the seeds have been found in ruins dating back to 5000 B.C. Its name comes from the Greek word koris, meaning a stinky bug. This is no doubt a reference to the strong aroma given off by the cilantro plant leaves when they are bruised.

More about Cilantro and Cilantro Recipes:

Cilantro and Coriander Cooking Tips
Cilantro and Coriander Storage and Selection
What is cilantro? FAQ
What is coriander? FAQ
What is culantro? FAQ
Cilantro Recipes
Cilantro Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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