Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is one of the most commonly used spices. And don’t be alarmed if you’re one of the many who dislike the leaves as Coriander seeds with their earthy citrus aroma and mild taste are much less assuming. No similarity to the leaves at all.
Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, coriander has also hitched a ride all over the world. It is now hugely important to Indian and Mexican cooking as well as Middle Eastern. Ground coriander is used in spice blends such as garam masala, dukkah and curry powders. It is also combined with garlic to make taklia, a condiment popular in the eastern
Mediterranean. Whole seeds add flavour to fish stocks and can be added to batters for coating vegetables. Why not try our Cauliflower Pakora recipe.
Different varieties of coriander are grown today. Seeds grown in Europe and North Africa tend to be smaller and rounder than those from tropical climates. Their aroma is also more citrusy and floral.
As well as flavour, coriander also adds texture to a dish, and when ground it helps to thicken a sauce.
To enhance their flavour, making the seeds earthier and nuttier, lightly dry toast them in a frying pan, for 1 to 2 minutes. They are ready when they begin to darken in colour and become aromatic. This is best for meat dishes. If you want to retain the citrussy floral notes, then use them without toasting. This suits when using with fish for fish.
Coriander is great combined with chickpeas, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, cauliflower and onion. And you can sprinkle ground toasted seeds over salads, lentils, soups, yoghurt, feta cheese, and fruit dishes. So next time you make a crumble, why not add coriander?
Coriander has so many uses in cooking and is one of the best known and most versatile spices in world kitchens. Do experiment and let us know how you like to use them.