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Cilantro and coriander are well-known herbs that make great additions to cuisines all around the world. Are they the same thing just referred to by different names?
Both the coriander spice and the cilantro leaves come from the coriander plant (Coriandrum Sativum). The whole coriander plant is edible. The roots, seeds, and leaves are used in cooking.
The main difference between cilantro and coriander is that in the US, cilantro refers to the leaves and stems popular in Mexico and South Asia, while coriander refers to its dried seed. However, the rest of the world seems to call this plant coriander.
This article discusses cilantro vs coriander to avoid any confusion so that you can be confident about the correct term.
What is Coriander?
Coriander, also known as Chinese parsley, dhania, and cilantro, depending on which part of the plant you refer to, is an annual herb that belongs to the Apiaceae family.
Coriander mostly refers to the seeds of the Coriandrum Sativum plant, but in some cases also refers to the herbaceous part of the same plant. These seeds are dried and then made into a spice with a slightly floral and earthly flavor. Coriander seeds are used in spice blends such as garam masala. It is also added to pickled vegetables and brewing beer.
What is Cilantro?
Cilantro is most often referred to as the bright green leaves and the stalks of the Coriandrum Sativum plant. The word cilantro is Spanish for coriander.
How are Cilantro and Coriander Different?
Although they are extracted from the same Coriandrum sativum plant, cilantro is just the foliage of the plant, while coriander can be the herbaceous part or the seeds of the plant. So it is the same plant but different parts of the plant are known by different names.
Nutritional Values of Coriander and Cilantro
Cilantro and coriander both have different nutrient profiles.
The difference in water levels of both constitutes a major difference between them, fresh cilantro contains 92.2% water, while coriander seeds only have 8.9%water. Water in cilantro contains no calories or minerals, which is why coriander is richer in minerals than cilantro.
Coriander seeds contain far more minerals as compared to cilantro leaves. While cilantro leaves have a much higher content of vitamins as compared to coriander seeds.
Here is a comparison table to compare the nutritional values present in a 10-gram sample of cilantro and coriander:
|Mineral/ Vitamin||Cilantro (% RDI)||Coriander (% RDI)|
Different Aromas and Flavor
No matter even if they come from the same plant, cilantro and coriander have completely different aromas and flavors.
Coriander has a less polarizing aroma and flavor as compared to cilantro. The smell of coriander is nutty, spicy, warm, and a little bit citrusy. The spice made by grinding coriander seeds is used together with cinnamon and cumin, as they have similar taste traits.
On the other hand, cilantro is a herb that has a fresh herb aroma and a citrusy taste. Some people also declare the flavor of cilantro to be like metal or soap which is quite an interesting conclusion.
Cilantro and Coriander are Used Differently in Cooking
The different tastes and properties of cilantro and coriander make them be used differently by different people.
Cilantro leaves are commonly used to garnish Chinese, Mexican, Thai, South Asian, and South American dishes, because of their refreshing, citrusy taste. Chopped leaves are added to the food not long before serving it since heat takes away its flavor and aroma in no time.
· Cilantro Dishes
- Soups: Cilantro is used to garnish and enhance the flavor of soups
- Salsa: a side dish of Mexican origin
- Chutney: A herb sauce originating from India
- Guacamole: A dip made with Avocado
- Acorda: A bread soup originating from Portuguese
On the other hand, coriander leaves are used while cooking different dishes to give them a spicy touch because of their warm and spicy flavor. Coriander seeds are often dried and roasted to enhance their flavor. But grinding those makes them lose their flavor, so it is better to grind them just before using them.
· Coriander Dishes
- Meat rubs
- Rice dishes
- Pickled vegetables
- Stews and soups
- Dhana dal: a popular Indian snack made by roasting and crushing coriander seeds
- Borodinsky bread: A type of rye and sourdough bread originating from Russia
Can Cilantro Replace Coriander or Vice Versa?
Because coriander and cilantro have different aromas and flavors, you cannot interchange them when cooking. An important thing to note about coriander is that when written as an ingredient in a recipe, it could refer to the green leaves as well as the seeds.
So, whenever you see coriander written in the ingredients, check how it is used to determine whether you need to add the leaves and stalks, or the dried seeds.
Benefits of Cilantro and Coriander
By containing many nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, cilantro and coriander are associated with many possible health benefits. These need further research, but the claimed benefits that cilantro and coriander share are as follows:
· May Reduce Risk for Heart Problems
Some animal studies and test-tube research claim that coriander and cilantro reduce some risks of the leading cause of death around the world, such as heart disease.
Cilantro possibly reduces the risks of heart disease by reducing the formation of blood clots in the body.
Animal studies show that coriander seed extracts reduce blood pressure in animals by helping them remove more salt and water in their urine. Coriander seed extracts reduce blood pressure in animals, which in turn reduces the risks of heart disease.
· May Lessen Inflammation
There are large quantities of molecules called antioxidants in both coriander and cilantro. These antioxidants join and reduce free radicals, which are inflammation-producing molecules in the body. This is known to decrease inflammation in the body.
Cilantro extracts have also been shown to help fight against skin aging by containing antioxidants. When free radicals are damaged, this speeds up the process of skin aging.
Moreover, coriander seed extract contains antioxidants that as claimed by a test-tube study, help reduce inflammation and stop the growth of cancerous cells in different parts of the body, including the lungs, prostate, stomach, breast, and colon.
These are studies on animals or test tubes, they need further research on human beings before claiming them to be authentic.
· May Reduce Sugar Levels in The Blood
Both cilantro and coriander increase enzyme activity in the body and help to eliminate sugar from the body. Coriander seeds and cilantro leaves are both effective in this manner and produce fruitful results to the level of diabetes medicines in reducing the sugar levels in the blood.
Buying and Storing Coriander and Cilantro
Try to choose fresh and green cilantro leaves, instead of wilted, yellow, or brown leaves, as fresh ones are richer in flavor. Cilantro can be stored in the refrigerator for some days, following these steps:
- Trim the bottom of the stems of cilantro plants
- Take a jar a few inches filled with water
- Place the cilantro bunch in the jar
- Regularly change the water
- Remove any wilted or yellow leaves
The most promising way to use coriander seeds is to buy them whole, rather than in powdered or grounded form. This is because coriander seeds lose their flavor and aroma the moment, they are ground. Therefore, ground or crush them just before you need to add them to a dish.
Cilantro seeds are saved for a long time by drying, but the longer you keep them, the more they lose their spicy aroma and fresh, citrusy flavor.
Although both coriander and cilantro come from the same plant, being different parts of the plant, they are very different in their properties and uses. They have different aromas and flavors, so never use coriander seeds in a recipe that calls for cilantro leaves.
The cilantro leaves provide a refreshing flavor when garnished on top of any dish, and coriander seeds spice up the entire recipe. Now that you know all about cilantro vs coriander, we hope you will confidently use them in your cooking to make gourmet dishes.