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Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.)

Synonyms

pharmaceuticalFructus Coriandri
AlbanianKoriandër e kultivuar, Koriander
Amharicድምብላል, ድንብላል
Dimbilal, Dinbilal
Arabicكسبره, كزبرة
كُزْبَرة
Kusbarah, Kuzbarah
Aramaicܓܝܕ, ܓܫܢܝܙ, ܟܘܣܒܪ, ܟܘܣܒܪܗ, ܦܠܛܡܝܪܘܢ, ܬܘܠ
Gid, Geshniz, Kuzbar, Kuzbara, Paltmiron, Tawla
ArmenianԳինձ
Kinj, Ginj
Assameseধনিয়া
Dhoniya
AzeriKeşniş, Kinza
Кешниш, Кинза
BasqueMartorria
BelarusianКаляндра, Карыяндар
Kaĺiandra, Karyjandar
Bengaliধনে, ধনেপাতা, ধনিয়া
Dhone, Dhane-pata, Dhaniya
Bodoदुनदिआ, दुन्दिया
Dundia
BretonKoriandrez
BulgarianКориандър
Koriandur
BurmeseNan nan zee (fruits), Nan nan bin (herb), Naunau
CatalanCeliàndria, Coriandre
Chakma𑄝𑄉𑄮𑄢𑄴
Bagor
ChineseFan Yan Sui, Wan-Swee, Yan Shi, Yuen sai
Chinese
(Cantonese)
番芫荽 [fàan yùhn sài], 胡荽 [wùh sèui], 香菜 [hēung choi], 香荽 [hēung sèui], 芫荽 [yùhn sèui], 芫茜 [yùhn sāi]
Wuh seui, Yuhn seui, Yuhn sai, Faan yuhn sai, Heung choi, Heung seui
Chinese
(Mandarin)
番芫荽 [fān yuán suī], 胡荽 [hú suī], 香菜 [xiāng cài], 香荽 [xiāng suī], 芫荽 [yuán suī], 芫茜 [yuán xī]
Hu sui, Yuan sui, Yuan xi, Yan shi, Fan yuan sui, Xiang cai, Xiang sui
Copticⲃⲉⲣⲉϣⲏ, ⲃⲉⲣⲉϣⲉⲩ, ϭⲛⲟⲩ, ϣϣⲛⲟⲩ
Bereshe, Beresheu, Qnou, Sheshnou
CroatianKorijandar
CzechKoriandr, Koriandr setý
DanishCoriander
Dhivehiކޮތަނބިރި
Kothan'biri
Dogriधनिया
Dhaniya
DutchKetoembar, Koriander
Dzongkhaཡེད་སྲེས་, འོད་སུ་
Yensey, Odsu
EnglishCoriander, Chinese parsley, Indian parsley (herb)
EsperantoKoriandro
EstonianAedkoriander, Koriander
Farsiگشنیز
Geshniz
FinnishKorianteri
FrenchCoriandre, Punaise mâle, Persil arabe
GaelicCoireiman, Lus a choire
GalicianCoendro
Georgianქინძი
Kindzi, Khinji, Kinji, Qindzi, Khindsi
GermanKoriander, Wanzenkümmel, Chinesische Petersilie, Indische Petersilie (herb)
GreekΚόλιανδρο, Κορίαντρο, Κορίανδρο, Κόλιαντρος, Κολίανδρο
Koliandro, Kolianthro, Koriantro, Koriandro, Koliantros
Greek (Old)Κορίαννον, Κόριον
Koriannon, Korion
Gujaratiકોથમીર, ધાણા
Kothmir, Dhana
Hebrewגד, כוסבר, כסברה
גַד, כּוּסְבָּר, כֻּסְבָּרָה
Gad, Kusbar, Kusbara
Hindiधनिया, धनिया पत्ता, हरा धनिया, कोथमीर
Dhaniya, Dhaniya patta, Hara dhaniya, Kothamir
HmarDhania
HungarianKoriander, Cigánypetrezselyem, Beléndfű, Zergefű
IcelandicKóríander
IndonesianKetumbar (fruits), Daun ketumbar (herb)
IrishLus an choire
ItalianCoriandolo
Japaneseコリアンダー, コエンドロ
Korianda, Koendoro
Kannadaಧನಿಯ, ಕೊತ್ತಂಬರಿ
Dhaniya, Havija, Kambari, Kottambari
Kashmiriدانیول, دانول
Danival
KhasiDhonia
KhmerVannsui, Chi van-suy
Korean고수, 고수풀, 코리앤더, 코리안더, 코리엔더
Kosu, Kosu-pul, Koriaendeo, Koriandeo, Koriendeo
Laoຫອມປ້ອມ, ຜັກຫອມປ້ອມ
Hom-pom, Pak hom pom
LatinCoriandrum
LatvianKinzas, Koriandrs
LithuanianKalendra, Blakinė kalendra
MacedonianКоријандер
Korijander
Maithiliधनिया
Dhaniya
MalayKetumbar (fruits), Daun ketumbar, Wansui (herb), Penjilang
Malayalamകൊത്തമല്ലി, കൊത്തമ്പാല്‍, കൊത്തമ്പാൽ, മല്ലി, കൊത്തമ്പാലാരി
Kothamalli, Kotthampal, Malli, Kottampalari
Manipuri (Meitei-Lon)ফদিগোম
ꯐꯗꯤꯒꯣꯝ
Fadigom
Marathiधने, कोथिंबीर
Dhanya, Dhane (fruits), Kothimbir (herb)
MizoDania
MongolianҮсүү
Üsüü
Naga (Angami)Danyia
Naga (Ao)Dunia
Naga (Chakhesang-Chokri)Dunia
Naga (Khezha)Dunia
Naga (Lotha)Dunia
Naga (Mao)Phidugun
Naga (Tangkhul)Phatikom
Nepaliधनियाँ, धनियाँको साग
Dhaniyan; Dhaniyanko sag (coriander leaves)
NorwegianKoriander
Oriyaଧନିଆ, ଧନିଆ ପତ୍ର
Dhaniya, Dhania patra (leaves)
OssetianКиндзӕ
Kindzae
PahlaviGishniiz
PashtoGashneez
PolishKolendra siewna
PortugueseCoentro
Punjabiਧਨੀਆ, ਹਰਾ ਧਨੀਆ
Dhania, Hara dhania
RomanianCoriandru
RussianКинза, Кишнец, Кориандр
Kinza, Kishnets (herb); Koriandr (fruits)
SanskritDhaniyaka, Kustumburi
SantaliDhania
SerbianКоријандар, Кишнец
Korijandar, Kišnec
Sinhalaකොත්තමල්ලි
Kottamalli
SlovakKoriander, Koriander siaty
SlovenianKoriander
SpanishCoriandro, Cilantro
SwahiliGiligilani
SwedishKoriander
TagalogKulantro, Unsuey, Wansuey, Uan-soi (herb)
TajikГашнич
Gashnich
Tamilகொத்தமல்லி
Kottamali, Kothamali
Teluguధణియాలు, కొతిమెర, కొతిమిర, కుస్తుంబురు
Dhaniyalu, Kotimer, Kotimir, Kustumburu
Thaiผักชี, เมล็ดผักชี, ลูกผักชี
Pak chi, Pak chi met (herb); Mellet pak chi ??, Luk pak chi (fruits)
Tibetanའུ་སུ་, སོ་ནམ་པད་འཛོམས་
Usu; So na pad tshom, Sona pentsom (writing uncertain)
Tuluಕೊತ್ತಂಬರಿ
Kottambari
TurkishKişniş, Kişnic
UkrainianКоріандр посивний
Koriandr posyvnyj
Urduدھنیا, کشنیز, کوتھمیر
Dhania, Kishniz, Kothamir
UzbekKoriandr, Kashnich
Кориандр, Кашнич
VietnameseCây rau mùi, Hồ tụy, Mùi, Ngò, Ngò ta
Cay rau mui, Ho tuy (plant); Mui, Ngo (herb); Ngo ta (fruits)
Yiddishפֿעלד־גליאַנדער, קאָריאַנדער, צילאַנטראָ
Feld-Gliander, Koriander, Tsilantro
Coriandrum sativum: Cilantro leaves
Coriander leaves (also known as cilantro): Upper and lower side.
Coriandrum sativum: Coriander fruits
Coriander fruits (often termed seeds). Left the larger Indian coriander, right the smaller European cultivar.
Note

The term culantro, proper­ly mean­ing long coriander, is some­times mis­applied to coriander leaves, especially in regions where long coriander is not known.

Used plant part

Fruits, leaves and root (the latter only in Thailand).

Fruits and leaves posses totally dif­ferent flavour and can there­fore not sub­stitute each other. Drying destroys most of the leaves’ fra­grance, yet dried coriander leaves are mentioned in some versions of Georgian khmeli-suneli (see blue fenu­greek) and of the Irani ghorme herb mix (see fenugreek).

The plants devel­op leaves of two different shapes: The base leaves are broad, similar to Italian parsley, and are reputed for the better flavour. Leaves attached to the stems have a pinnate shape, and their flavour is said to be less fresh.

Plant family

Apiaceae (parsley family).

Coriandrum sativum: Flowering coriander plant
Coriander plant with flowers. Note the two different leaf shapes.
Coriandrum sativum: Unripe coriander fruits
Unripe coriander fruits
Sensory qual­ity 

Almost every­body would agree that the fruits’ aroma is pleasant. It is usually described warm, nutty and spicy; some even find or­ange-like qual­ity in it.

There is, how­ever, much dis­agree­ment about the flavour of co­riander leaves, roots and un­ripe fruits: Many people of Euro­pean her­itage find it dis­pleas­ing, soapy, like burnt rubber or even like crushed bed­bugs or the evil-smelling stink bugs living on rose bushes. There are, however, many Euro­peans who enjoy cori­ander leaves, and in Asia, Latin America and Africa, almost every­body loves them. These people would describe coriander leaves as fresh, green, tangy and even citrusy.

There is per­manent rumour that the ability to like or dis­like coriander herb (cilantro) is genetically caused. I do not know whether this is true; in any case, the theory might explain that some Euro­peans and North­ern Ameri­cans seem to like it from the beginning while others have a hard time getting used to it. Note, however, that almost the same is true for chile, which is used with discretion in Europe and, until recently, the Unites States, but which is, with some exceptions, much more popular everywhere else; yet I haven’t heard the claim that that is a genetic thing, too.

Coriandrum sativum: Coriander umbel
Coriander flowers
Coriandrum sativum: Coriander umbel
Coriander umbel
Main consti­tuents

In the ripe fruits, the con­tent of essen­tial oil is com­parably low (typic­ally, less than 1%); the oil consists mainly of linalool (50 to 60%) and about 20% terpenes (pinenes, γ-ter­pinene, myrcene, camphene, phell­andrenes, α-ter­pinene, limonene, cymene).

In toasted coriander fruits, pyrazines are formed as the main flavour com­pounds (see cumin).

The taste of the fresh herb is due to an es­sen­tial oil (0.1%) that is al­most en­tire­ly made up of ali­phatic al­dehydes with 10 to 16 carbon atoms. One finds both saturated (decanal) and α,β unsaturated (trans-2-tridecenal) aldehydes; the same aldehydes appear in the unripe fruits. Similar compounds occur in a few other spices and herbs, all of which share coriander’s flavour: Examples include long coriander, Vietnamese coriander and the Japanese chemotype of chameleon plant.

Origin

Probably Eastern Mediterranean (Greece) or Asia Minor.

Coriandrum sativum: Coriander field
Coriander field
Coriandrum sativum: Coriander flower
Coriander flowers
Coriandrum sativum: Flowering coriander plant
Flowering coriander plant

The coriander grown in Russia and Central Europe (var. micr­ocarpum) has smaller fruits (less than 3 mm) and contains more essential oil than the oriental variety var. vulgare (greater than 3 mm), which is cultivated for fruits and leaves.

Etymology

The names of coriander in all Western European languages can be traced back to Latin coriandrum and Greek koriannon [κορίαννον]. The Greek name exists in several variant forms, e. g., korion [κόριον] in Dioskurides and koriadna [𐀒𐀪𐀊𐀅𐀙] in Mycenaean Greek. It is usually put into relation with koris [κόρις] bug, because of the aroma of the leaves, but it is more probably a loan from an ancient Medi­ter­ra­nean tongue and might be dis­tantly re­lated to Greek karon [κάρον] cumin and Hebrew gad [גד] co­rian­der.

The German names Wanzen­dill (bug’s dill) and Wanzen­kümmel (bug’s caraway) may be loan trans­lations of the Greek name, but I think they perhaps arose in­depen­dently. The names are clearly deroga­tory and reflect the critical attitude towards coriander leaves common among Central or North Euro­peans.

In Latin America and also in the USA, coriander leaves are commonly known by the name cilantro. This word has the same origin as coriander, and it is difficult to explain the differing vowel. Maybe cilantro is directly derived from a Latin variant with light vowel, e. g., Medieval Latin celiandrum. Another explanation claims that the Spanish name was first culantro, later changed to cilantro for some reason; in any case, culantro exists in today’s Mesoamerican Spanish, but usually denotes not coriander but a similar smelling herb, long coriander. Confusingly, on some Caribbean islands, long coriander is known as cilantro and coriander as cilantrillo.

Many Asian ton­gues have inter­related names for coriander, e. g., Indo­nesian ketumbar, Dhivehi kotanbiri [ކޮތަނބިރި], Tamil kota­malli [கொய்த­மல்லி], Telugu kustum­buru [కుస్తుం­బురు], Gujarati kothmir [કોથમીર], Urdu kothamir [کوتھمیر] and Arabic al-kuzbara [الكزبرة]. This group seems to be of ancient origin, as it has members also in Sanskrit (kustumbari [कुस्तुंबरी]) and Akkadian (kisibirru [𒊺𒇽]). Its relation to coriander (if any) is not known.

Another, per­haps related, group of names originating from Middle Persian gishniz is found in Western to Central Asia: Farsi geshniz [گشنیز], Urdu kishniz [کشنیز], Tajik gashnich [гашнич], Uzbek kashnich [кашнич], Azeri keşniş, Turkish kişniş and also Russian kishnets [кишнец]. The names in the Caucasus countries (Georgian kindzi [ქინძი], Ossetian kindzae [киндзӕ] and Armenian kinj [գինձ]) are perhaps related and have been transferred, via Russian kinza [кинза], to some more languages of the Soviet Union (Latvian kinzas). I also suspect Coptic sheshnou [ϣϣⲛⲟⲩ] to belong to that group.

Because of similar shape and usage, coriander leaves are named after parsley, often with a geographic epithet: Indian parsley and Chinese parsley are most often heard. The Hungarian name cigánypetrezselyem gypsies’ parsley should also be named in this context, although I am not sure of the motivation behind.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Coriander (indianetzone.com) Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Knoblauch (rezkonv.de via archive.org) A Pinch of Cilantro (www.apinchof.com) A Pinch of Coriander (www.apinchof.com) The Epicentre: Coriander Medical Spice Exhibit: Coriander (Cilantro) (via archive.org) (via archive.org) Pflanzen des Capitulare de Villis: Koriander (biozac.de) Transport Information Service: Coriander Sorting Coriandrum names (www.plantnames.unimelb.edu.au) Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association: Coriander chemikalienlexikon.de: Linalool Floridata.com: Coriander Crop and Food Research: Coriander (crop.cri.nz via archive.org) Herbs by Linda Gilbert: Coriander Recipe: Guacamole (www.recipesource.com) Recipe: Guacamole (homecooking.about.com) Rezept von goccus.com: Zuq [زوق] Recipe: Zhoug [زوق] (www.recipesource.com) Recipe: Shatta [شطة] (www.recipesource.com) Rezept von goccus.com: Sambar-Pulver [சாம்பார் பொடி] Recipe: Sambar Podi [சாம்பார் பொடி] (recipesource.com) Recipe: Sambar [சாம்பார்] (groups.google.com) Recipe: Sambar [சாம்பார்] (groups.google.com)


Coriandrum sativum: Coriander field
Coriander field
Coriandrum sativum: Coriander (flowering plant)
Coriander (flowering plant)
Coriander fruits are a common spice in many coun­tries of Europe, North­ern Africa, West, Central and South Asia. In the Medi­terra­nean region, coriander culti­vation dates back to ancient Egypt; coriander is also men­tioned in the Bible, where it is com­pared to manna (see pome­granate). In Europe, coriander is known since the Middle Ages (see gale about its use in medieval and Renaissance beer brewing).

Coriander is an essential part of curry powder (see curry leaves) and and is contained in most Indian spice blends, e. g. North Indian (garam masala [गरम मसाला, گرم مسالحہ oder گرم مصالحہ]. Also Ethiopian berbere [በርበሬ], which much resembles Indian spice mixtures, contains coriander fruits (see long pepper). Lastly, it should be noted that also Latin American cuisine makes much use of them. Roasting or frying, much practiced in India and Sri Lanka, enhances the flavour.

South Indian cuisine has a parti­cular af­finity to coriander fruits, which are usually toasted to a very dark colour. Coriander is the main com­ponent in the spice mixture sambar podi [சாம்பார் பொடி], which appears to ori­ginate in Tamil Nadu, but is now common to all the South­ern States; it is used to flavour a typical South Indian vegetable curry (saambaar [சாம்பார்]) made from lentiles or other pulses and various vegetables; it has a rather thin, soupy appearance. Sambar is oftn eaten with a thin, crèpe-like bread made from ground rice (dosai [தோசை]) or, particularly at breakfast time, with idli [இட்லி], steamed dumplings from a slightly fermented rice and bean batter. Base component of sambar podi are lentils or tiny beans (urad dal [उड़द दाल]), which are dry-roasted or toasted until they lose their raw flavour. They are mixed with other toasted spices (mostly coriander, cumin, fenugreek and chiles) and black pepper; optional ingredients are toasted mustard seeds and asafetida powder. The powder is simply added, together with fresh curry leaves, to boiling lentil or vegetable curries.

Coriandrum sativum: Coriander flower and leaves
Coriander flower and leaves
Coriandrum sativum: Coriander plants
Coriander plants

The usage of toasted legumes is typical for South Indian cuisine. For another example of a Southern Indian spice mixture (bisi bele pudi [ಬಿಸಿ ಬೇಳೆ ಪುಡಿ]), see coconut. Spice mixtures similar to sambar podi are also much in use among the descendants of South Indian immigrants in Malaysia or Singapore. In parts of South India (particularly Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka), a powder of toasted and ground legumes is used as a table condiment, possibly augmented with other spices. Outside of the South Indian sphere of influence, I found a similar powder in Manipur (see chameleon plant).

Arabic cooking makes much use of coriander fruits, which are contained in a number of Oriental spice blends, like Moroccan ras al-hanout (see cubeb pepper) and baharat from the Gulf states (see paprika); they are also part of Ethiopian berbere (see long pepper). Coriander has a unique ability to fuse and amalagamate different aromas in a spice blend, and this property nicely explains why coriander is often found in spice mixtures even in regions where pure coriander is not so popular.

Coriander lea­ves (also called coriander green) are popular over the most part of Asia, beginning in Western Asia (Caucasus region, particularly herb-loving Georgia, and also Yemen) and stretches all the way to India and China, albeit in low intensity. Both in India and China, coriander leaf usage shows regional patters with some hot spots, e. g. in Maharashtra and Hunan; on the other side, their characteristic flavour is avoided altogether in Sri Lanka. Also Japan is a coriander-liberated zone.

Coriander leaf usage peaks in South East Asia; where it is indespensable for some cuisines. In Thai cooking, coriander leaves are often used to add additional flavour to soups (tom yam [ต้มยำ], see kaffir lime), salads (laab [ลาบ], see peppermint) and curries; for green curry paste (prik gaeng kiau [พริกแกงเขียว]), both root and leaves are needed for colour and heat-stable flavour (see coconut). The heartland of coriander leaf usage in South East Asia, however, is Vietnam. Particularly in South Vietnam, chopped coriander leaves appear as decorations on nearly every dish, be it soup, noodles or even the French-introduced baguettes. Often, foods are served with a rich herb garnish that contains, besides crisp but tasteless lettuce leaves, various herbs (coriander, basil, peppermint, Vietnamese coriander and more). Coriander leaves are less enjoyed in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Coriander leaves resemble European parsley leaves in a number of ways: They have similar shape and are both best used raw, as the flavour vanishes after prolonged cooking. Few recipes boil either of these herbs, but there is again the coincidence the parsley is often used in European broth recipes, usually in the form of bouquet garni, and this finds a sibling in the South Indian spice broth rasam [ரசம்], where coriander leaves are boiled (see tamarinde for more). In both plants, the root has a similar flavour than the leaves, and its flavour turns out to tolerate boiling or simmering much better.

Coriandrum sativum: Ripe coriander seeds
Ripe coriander fruits

Coriander lea­ves, however, are a rare ingredient in the cooking of Western Asia; the main example is Zhoug (or zhug [زوق]), a spicy paste typical for Yemeni cookery, which sometimes also contains coriander fruits. The key ingredients are green chiles, garlic, cardamom and black pepper. Further, optional ingredients are cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. Several recipes name caraway as an ingredient, but I am not sure that this is not a translation error for cumin. All components are processed to a thick paste. Zhoug may be used as a relish, bread dip or condiment. A version of zhoug prepared with red chiles is known as shatta [شطة], which is also an Arabic name of red chiles.

The only other Western Asian cuisine using green coriander is Georgian cooking. Rather uniquely, Georgians like to combine parsley and coriander leaves do decorate their stews, or serve both types of leaves together as a fresh contrast to cheese. Often, the green power of these two herbs is augmented by dill leaves. In Georgia, cooks use not only the leaves but also the umbels with immature fruits, which have a particularly intesive flavour. In neighbouring Azərbaycan (Azerbaijan), green coriander leaves are less used, and in other countries of the region they are almost unknown.

Coriandrum sativum: Coriander flower/fruit
Intertwined coriander umbels with flowers and unripe fruits

Use of coriander leaves is very frequent in Latin America, especially México (e. g., in salsa, see long coriander, or ceviche, see lime). Another famous Mexican food relying on coriander leaves is guacamole, a spicy coarse mash from avocados, chopped tomatoes, lime juice, onions, garlic, chiles and coriander leaves. For the heat, Mexicans most often use the green jalapeño or the slightly hotter serrano (see also paprika), but actually I prefer the flavourful habanero or related chiles for that food.

The Mexican herb epazote is sometimes substituted by cilantro leaves, especially outside México; but the two plants have little in common, and I think that savory or thyme might be better suited.

Coriander leaves are most often used raw; cooking or even short frying tends to diminish their fragrance. As always, there are exceptions to that rule: In some Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in huge amounts and long-cooked till they dissolve and their flavour mellows. An example is the Iranian herb sauce ghorme, see fenugreek.

Being confronted with coriander leaves for the first time, many people from Europe or Northern America find their taste repulsive. This may change after some time of forced exposure to this herb; after two months in Vietnam, I found myself unable to enjoy noodle soups (pho [phở], see Vietnamese cinnamon on Northern Vietnamese and Vietnamese coriander on Southern Vietnamese noodle soups, respectively) without coriander leaves, although I pretty much had disliked the taste when I had entered the country. Today, I shouldn’t even dream of preparing Vietnamese soups without first finding a supply of coriander green; I have, however, noticed that my guest usually have not yet reached the necessary degree of mastership over their own taste buds and, thus, prefer their soup bowls without coriander leaves.

Yet, even in Europe, the popularity of coriander leaves has increased steeply in the last years of the late millennium (in the USA, a similar development had taken place a decade earlier). Due to the increasing interest in ethnic cookery, and the success of Mexican and Thai restaurants, coriander leaves are now more appreciated in Europe than ever before. In conjunction with the changing eating habits, new recipes are published that make heavy use of formerly hardly-known herbs, coriander being one of them. See also rocket about zeitgeist cooking.



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