Coriander Seed

Dried fruit (not seeds!) used as a spice, the leaves are used in salads and cooking, and the stems and roots can be used in cooking.




Dhaniya or Dhania




Coriandrum sativum


Spicy, nutty, with lots of citrus and floral overtones bordering on lemony!


Apiaceae (parsley family)


Dried fruit (not seeds!) used as a spice, the leaves are used in salads and cooking, and the stems and roots can be used in cooking. ‘Cilantro’ can be used to refer to the leaves, especially in Spain and the US. The European strain are roughly spherical, approx. 4mm diameter, brown in colour with tiny ridges running from top to bottom. The Indian are very much larger, oval type shape and golden, green hue.


Annual herb growing up to 20 inches tall. The leaves are similar to flat leaf parsley in shape, although slightly smaller and more intricate. Towards the top of the plant they become quite feathery where the plant produces small white flowers. The fruits are separated from the harvested plants by thrashing, and cleaned by winnowing.


Used in Indian cooking, sometimes whole but usually ground, and always in generous quantities – you don’t have to be too precise in how much you use. As with similar spices it is best ground on a need to use basis, as it will lose its flavour quickly when powdered, and is better dry roasted or fried. It must one of the easiest spices to grind on account of its brittle nature. It is a major part of many curry powders, both traditional Indian and those made in the West.


Use of coriander leaves in India dates back as far as recorded history. Use of the ‘seeds’ came with the arrival of the Muslims from the north. Mughal dishes are perhaps most associated with coriander ‘seed’, which makes sense as they are Muslim in origin. Coriander has been grown in India, China, and Egypt for thousands of years, and records of its use go back 5000 years.Hippocrates, BC460-370 approx, advocated the use of coriander in early Greek medicine and Pliny the Elder, AD23-79, informs us that its name comes to us from the Greek word for bug, ‘koris’, because, apparently, it smells of bed bugs! The Romans brought it over to Northern Europe, and from there it became one if the first spices to cross over to The Americas – in Central America and Peru it has become a regular part of their cuisine.


Coriander flowers attract honey bees and contain enough nectar for them to make an extremely flavoursome honey.The ‘seeds’ have been nicknamed dizzycorn due to its supposed narcotic effect when too much is eaten.It is an ingredient in traditional corned beef which was a necessary way for the Irish to preserve their meat – Texas has a big Irish population, going back to the 18th century, and many of their descendents eat corned beef and cabbage when celebrating Paddy’s Day. Having also been a popular part of English and Irish cuisine until the Renaissance period, it is only relatively recently that coriander, in all its forms, is becoming popular again in our diet, most likely because of the ready availability of more spicy foods in general.


Improves digestion and stimulates hunger. It has antibacterial, antibilious, antifungal, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, stomachic properties. It helps the routine function of the stomach, relieves distention, diarrrhoea, dysentery, and cold symptoms, and can help lower cholesterol. The dried fruits soaked in water can help with peptic acid. The vitamin b & c content mean it is often recommended for those showing vitamin deficiency symptoms. It forms a part of the treatment for nausea, morning sickness and colitis.