Cilantro or coriander is an herbal spice added to food to bring additional flavour and aroma. Cilantro and coriander are the same herbal plant. The nomenclature "coriander" has been derived from the Latin, Coriandrum sativum, whereas "cilantro" is its Spanish translation.
Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander leaves. It is referred to as the early stage of the plant with leaves but without seeds. Fresh leaves are widely used in Mexican and Asian cuisines where they are combined with chillies and added to salsas, guacamole, Indian curry recipes and seasoned rice dishes.
Coriander is referred to as the whole plant that includes leaves, stems, seeds and flowers. However, when people are talking of coriander, it is mainly the seeds to which they are referring. Seeds are ground into powder and used as a spice in several American, Mexican, Chinese and Indian cuisines. Like the leaves, coriander powder has a strong aroma and flavour.
Coriander seeds have been shown to have several health benefits. Studies with mice have been shown to control blood sugar, cholesterol and free radical production. Other studies have shown that it also contains an antibacterial compound that may help in killing Salmonella.
Shopping and Storage
When shopping for cilantro leaves, make sure that leaves are tender, aromatic, and very green. Avoid yellow leaves and wilted bunches. If there is no aroma in the leaves, do not buy them as they will have no flavour. Store cilantro leaves in a jar filled with water. Remove the yellow leaves and keep changing the water every two to three days. For coriander powder, buy the seeds and grind it yourself in small quantities for use. Ground powder loses its flavour if stored for long time.