Coriander is one the most widespread spices in the East. It had been grown for over 3000 years in Middle East, India, China and Mediterranean. Coriander used to be one of those bitter herbs which Jews were supposed to eat on the Easter Day. It was meant to signify the remembrance of the sufferings of Jewish people on the Egyptian lands. In ancient Rome the mix of coriander, cumin and vinegar was used to preserve meat.
It is interesting that leaves and seeds are considered as completely different spices and have slightly different usage.
Leaves of coriander have a very specific bitterish taste and incredible smell which can hardly be compared with anything else. Coriander seeds, on the other hand, have sweeter taste and somewhat spicy scent.
Leaves of coriander make a great addition to salads, sauces, soups, meat, fish, kebabs and sandwiches. Coriander seeds, on the other hand, are used for bread and other bakery for smell. They are also great for dishes made of red and Savoy cabbage. This spice is particularly popular in Mexican cuisine. The whole seeds are also used to scent various spirits, including gin and liquors. In Greece and Cyprus coriander seeds are used for conservation of olives.
Coriander is great in combination with garlic or chilli. That is the way it is used in the Caribbean.
It is best to store dry coriander in the tightly closed containers in a cool place. It should not be used for longer than a year after harvesting.
Fresh coriander should be stored in the refrigerator, preferably with its roots intact. You can put a bunch into a glass of water and cover the leaves with a loosely fitting plastic bag. Whole coriander can be stored for about a week, while the leaves that had been separated from the root will not last longer than 3 days.