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Common Name

Latin Name Family Country/Origin
Coriandrum sativum Umbelliferae Middle East, Asia

Coriander seeds are the fruit of the coriander plant, but the green leaves and stems of the coriander plant are known as cilantro.  In recipes and preparations that list fresh coriander or coriander leaves as an ingredient - use cilantro leaves.

Coriander seeds and powder figure prominently in many of the world's cuisines.  Coriander is a staple in curry powder blends and in traditional curries as well. Coriander seeds and ground coriander are versatile as they are both warm and refreshing. There is evidence that coriander was cultivated in ancient Egypt and may have been used as a culinary spice as early as 5,000 BC.

Coriander has a colorful and flavorful history as it is mentioned in the Bible and Sanskrit writings, it reportedly hung in the Gardens of Babylon and was even found in Tutankhamum's tomb. Ancient Roman soldiers used coriander to flavor and preserve food as they made their way across what would become the vast Roman Empire.

Coriander seeds are known asDhaniya in India, and are so referenced in ethnic Indian recipes and spice mixes like garam masala.

Also popular in Ancient Greece, coriander received its name from the Greek word "koris" meaning bug. This is because unripe coriander seeds have an unpleasant smell that ancient Greeks thought was reminiscent of bedbugs. Upon ripening this scent becomes quite sweet and citrusy.

Coriander seeds are picked once ripened but before they fall from the coriander plant - a member of the parsley family that reaches heights of two feet or less. The seeds are then dried. Ground coriander powder is available, but for best results try to purchase fresh dried whole spices and grind them at home.

Sometimes used to flavor gin and beer, coriander seeds can be found in sausages and even cigarettes. Coriander spice is most popular in the east but with the growth of international cuisine its warm, sweet flavor is gaining more attention in the west.

Purported Medicinal Qualities*

Coriander offers a wide range of health benefits. Like most spices it is an excellent home remedy for digestive problems, but can also be helpful for everything from colds to insomnia. Found to be a mild sedative, coriander is sometimes used to treat colic in infants and anxiety in adults. For centuries, mothers have poured boiling water over coriander seeds then let the essential oils captured in the steam open up nasal passages. New research is investigating coriander as a potential means to control blood sugar, as well as lowering 'bad' cholesterol.

Historically coriander has been used to:

  • Relieve headaches and migraines
  • Provide relief from coughs
  • Sooth upset stomachs
  • As an anti-bacterial
  • Reduce inflammation
  • As a source of phyto-nutrients
  • As a diuretic
  • Freshen breath

*Always check with your healthcare provider before consuming, inhaling, applying or otherwise ingesting any non-prescription of prescription natural or homeopathic substance of pharmaceutical. is not recommending, suggesting, inferring or otherwise endorsing the use of any herb or spice as a medicine or therapeutic remedy.

Culinary/Suggested Use

Coriander gives Thai food its distinctive flavor and is a primary of almost all blends of curry powder. Coriander seeds can be used in both sweet and savory dishes - in anything from cake to curry to pork chops. Roasting whole coriander seeds lightly before grinding enhances their flavor. When possible buy whole seeds and grind them immediately before cooking.  Food for thought:

  • To intensify flavour, dry-roast the the seeds until aromatic, before crushing or grinding.
  • Keep whole coriander seeds in a pepper grinder on the table to add a kick to any meal
  • Include coriander in your homemade curry or chili powder blends
  • Try ground coriander, cumin and garlic on anything from lamb to steak to pork chops
  • Add whole or ground coriander to soups, stews and chili
  • For a soothing bed time drink: simmer milk, honey, and a pinch each ground coriander and ground cinnamon. Drink warm
  • Grind coriander seeds over top of salads, fish and poultry

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