Coriander is considered both an herb and a spice since both its leaves and its seeds are used as a seasoning condiment. Fresh coriander leaves are more commonly known as cilantro and bear a strong resemblance to Italian flat leaf parsley. This is not surprising owing to the fact that they belong to the same plant family (Umbelliferae).
The fruit of the coriander plant contains two seeds which, when dried, are the parts that are used as the dried spice. When ripe, the seeds are yellowish-brown in color with longitudinal ridges.
|Common Uses||Use in soups, stews, curries, stir fries, pickling spices and with melted butter on fish and poultry meats. Coriander is a common ingredient in Indian spice blends and often used in Middle Eastern lamb and beef stews. Add whole seeds to marinades, stews and soups, or grind seeds in a pepper or spice mill before adding to recipes.|
The use of coriander can be traced back to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world's oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. Coriander was cultivated in ancient Egypt and given mention in the Old Testament. It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.