Cilantro, a member of the carrot family, is also sometimes referred to as Chinese Parsley or as Coriander. Cilantro is actually the leaf of the Coriander plant. Cilantro has a lovely fresh, grassy and lemony flavor. The Cilantro leaves look a bit like flat Italian parsley and, in fact, are related.
Cilantro is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. Originally grown around present day Greece, cilantro has been used as a culinary herb since at least 5,000 B.C. Cilantro is mentioned in Sanskrit text and the Bible. Coriander / Cilantro was one of the herbs thought, in ancient times, to have aphrodisiac qualities. Through to the modern day, Cilantro is considered an aid to the digestive system and an appetite stimulant.
Today Cilantro frequently appears as an ingredient in South American, Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisines. You will find cilantro in many South Asian chutneys, and in many Mexican and Caribbean salsas and guacamoles. As heat diminishes their flavor, coriander leaves are often added to the dish immediately before serving. In Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in large amounts and cooked until the flavor diminishes.
Although cilantro and coriander come from the same plant, their flavors are very different and cannot be substituted for each other. Use the dried Cilantro leaves in soups and stews, and in herb mixtures. Cilantro leaf is a delicious addition to avocado, chicken, fish, ice cream, lamb, lentils, mayonnaise, peppers, pork, rice, salads, salsas, shellfish, tomatoes, and yogurt recipes.