It surprises many Americans to learn that the somewhat obscure spice called coriander is simply the seed of the popular cilantro plant. More mild and less controversial than cilantro, coriander is popular in Middle Eastern and North African Cooking.
Native to Southern Europe, Coriander has been used since ancient times. It was mentioned in Ancient Egypt, used for medicinal purposes in Ancient China and is even discussed in the bible.
Easy to grow, coriander is cultivated throughout Europe, India and the Americas. Seeds produce a small green plant that flourishes in mild Mediterranean weather. Seeds are harvested when they turn beige or light brown. They are then left to dry or artificially dried before being shipped.
Coriander has a mild flavor, so is generally used in larger quantities than other ground seeds. It is best purchased in seed form, toasted and ground. This process forms the basis for many curry powders and masalas. It also pairs well with autumn fruits.