This annual herb (coriandrum sativum) was cultivated in ancient Egypt and has become an essential element in cuisines throughout Asia, India, South and Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean.
Coriander is grown for its seed as well as its leaves, known com- monly as cilantro. The leaves are similar to and often mistaken for flat leaf parsley and chervil. To tell them apart, remember that the broad, divided leaves of cilantro are larger than chervil and have more rounded leaf tips than parsley. Of course, you can also tell them apart by taste.
Some people are put off by the flavour of cilantro at first, finding it bitter and soapy. But the unpleasant taste disappears when the herb is cooked. Fresh cilantro is used in conjunction with many spicy dishes, including chiles, salsas, curries, and soups, and it has a particular affinity for chile, garlic, and lime.
This herb’s tiny pink flowers produce large pungent seeds that look like white peppercorns. Their flavour is that of strong citrus oil, and they’re used whole or ground in many spice blends. They pop up in brines for vegetables and meats and are fundamental to curries and chilli powders.
Cilantro and coriander are available in most large supermarkets and in Latin American markets.