The Difference Between Coriander and Cilantro

Did you know that Coriander and Cilantro are the same thing? Read on…

During my Indian cooking experience as an observant I wanted to learn the names of the ingredients in Marathi and Hindi. One of the first ingredients I learned was kothimbir, green herbs that are used in my house pretty much daily. I smelled them, and they smelled just like cilantro to me.

I had also bought some coriander powder, which was labeled as dhania in Hindi and it’s just ground coriander seeds.

coriander powder
Coriander Powder (Dhania)

I googled kothimbir and found that they are coriander leaves, but then found out that coriander and cilantro are the same thing! What?

I did not make the connection at first because the kothimbir leaves I saw looked like this:

coriander cilantro leaves

Instead of this (which is what cilantro looks like to me):

cilantro

But they are the same thing.

When I lived in the US, cilantro was always a leafy herb, and coriander a powder that is ground from the coriander seeds.

Coriander seeds source
Coriander seeds before drying source

It turns out that they both come from the same plant: coriander.

The different names are used in different regions of the world. Chinese parsley is another term for it. In Latin America and in the US it is called cilantro, the Spanish translation of coriander; in the UK they call the plant coriander and the seeds coriander seeds; and in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, people say dhania, which is the translation of coriander.

Apparently, “kothimbir” in Marathi, the local language, is the translation of cilantro (not coriander.) So I suppose they also use separate names for the herb and the powder/seed (dhania), like in the US.

A bit confused? Sorry.

The main point is that cilantro, coriander, coriander seeds, Chinese parsley, kothimbir and dhania/dhaniya. All come from the same plant.

coriander cilantro

However, keep in mind that even though they come from the same plant, they both (herb and seed) have different uses and also have different flavor and aroma. The herb is often used in Asian and Latin American cuisine, and the seed is often paired with cumin and cinnamon.

Now, when you google recipes from a different country than yours and coriander is an ingredient, you might want to make sure what they are really asking for.

You can also go share this interesting and surprising little food fact to your foodie friends. I thought it was. (Clearly, because I made a whole post about it).

coriander-cilantro

To top it off, here are some great coriander/cilantro recipes for you:

Chickpea and Coriander Burgers

Cilantro Fries

Coriander Lemon Chicken

And for the adventurous:

Curry Coriander Shorties

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15 thoughts on “The Difference Between Coriander and Cilantro

  1. Yes.. I think it may be an acquired taste sort of thing!.. In NY I would order Cold Sesame Noodles at lunch time.. I never really tasted the Cilantro.. but then I got an order from and over zealous chef and whew!! that DID it.. Nimmi, my Indian neighbor cooks with it all the time but puts the brakes on it for me when I eat over.. and some recipes I really love, I notice right away if it doesn’t have it in it and I sort of miss it.. weird!!!

    1. Yeah, I’ve read that cilantro can taste “soapey” to some people. And soap doesn’t really taste good haha, so maybe you are one of them. It is totally fair enough that you don’t like it. You are probably fine with it when it is a bit cooked and soaked maybe, but if it is raw, you simply hate it. And it is used raw a lot for finishing dishes. Onions for me a totally fine cooked, but I CANNOT eat them raw, I hate them raw.

  2. Thanks for that clarification!! Out of every spice or in this case plant in India and the States.. it’s the ONLY one I don’t care for…I cannot get used to it .. maybe in tiny amounts but when overdone, I’m done!

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