Cilantro Pesto

by Sandhya Hariharan @sandhyaskitchen

I am huge fan of cilantro, and it adds fantastic flavors to the dishes. Cilantro seeds and fresh cilantro both come handy in everyday cooking and are used differently.

Cilantro seeds have earthy flavors whereas the fresh leaves have citrus-like taste. If I were to have only one herb in my garden, it would be cilantro

Cilantro is my favorite herb for many reasons, it enhances the flavors of the dishes and works great as garnish.

Apart from culinary uses, it has many health benefits too - helps lower blood sugar, fights infections and promotes digestive health.

Here’s a recipe for Cilantro Pesto that you can use in your Vegetable traybake, Chicken dishes and in Pasta.

Add one bird’s eye green chili while making this pesto and they make a delicious dip for your samosa and pakoras too.

Cilantro Pesto recipe

  • Ingredients
  • 2 Cup cilantro
  • 2 Garlic clove
  • 10-12 cashew nuts or almonds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon



  1. Add the cilantro, garlic, nuts, salt and water to a blender jar and process smooth.
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice and blend again.
  3. Store the cilantro pesto in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Grow your own Cilantro in your herb garden.

Scatter the cilantro seeds (the ones you are using for cooking) thinly in containers or in the ground. Cover with soil or compost and watch them germinate in 2-3 weeks. Repeat this process in batches. 

Fresh Cilantro 

  • Fresh herbs don’t necessarily need cooking and can be added towards the end like a garnish. Add fresh cilantro leaves as garnish for most of your curries and dal.
  • I like to make a paste with cilantro, mint leaves, ginger and garlic and add it to my pulao rice, when cooking.
  • I also love to use cilantro stems to enhance the flavors of the dish I am cooking. Use not just the leaves, the stems too. They are full of flavors.
  • Along with working in many dishes, fresh cilantro in delicious in pesto and chutney.

Coriander Seeds

Unlike fresh cilantro, coriander seeds are used in the process of cooking or pickling. 

To achieve maximum flavors, I like toast the coriander seeds in a pan without any oil. Remove from heat and allow them to cool. The toasted seeds can now be used crushed, whole or even powdered. 

So many ways to use -

  • Whole seeds can be used in pickling vegetables, baking as well as rubs.
  • Crushed coriander seeds can be used in a marinade or in dals.
  • For ground cilantro, add the toasted cilantro seeds to the blender jar and powder them. Store them in an air tight jar.
  • Along with pastes, use the toasted seeds in cilantro chili Infused oil. They are delicious to drizzle on bread, dips and more.


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