What is Coriander?

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Coriander grew like a weed in my Pacific Northwest backyard, and if your turf is similar, you may never get rid of this herb plant once those coriander roots go deep. But don’t worry! There’s plenty you can do with coriander seed as a spice.

What is Coriander

Coriander spice is the dried seeds from the cilantro plant, or the Coriandrum sativum plant, another delicious herb. The spice called coriander is popular in Middle Eastern cooking.

Other names for the plant that coriander comes from include Chinese parsley or plain old coriander plant, and its fresh cilantro leaves are an herb used similarly to coriander seed in savory dishes around the world.

Coriander Origin

Coriander is native to Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Southwestern Asia. The coriander plant loves mostly sun, can weather the cold, and is a great addition to any vegetable garden.

How Does Coriander Taste?

Coriander tastes lemony with floral notes. Coriander’s best flavor shines when the dried coriander seed is toasted or dry roasted.

Though coriander and cilantro are from the same plant, the two herbs taste different. The plant’s leaves are cilantro, which tastes more lemony and spicy than coriander. Both cilantro and coriander have a rich floral flavor. Those who dislike cilantro should still try coriander seeds because the flavor difference between cilantro and coriander is significant.

Coriander in the Kitchen

Whole coriander seeds are used to pickle and create spice brines.

To cook with whole coriander seeds, toast them first in a dry pan to release more earthy, lemony flavors. Toasting reduces the seeds’ woody texture too so you can work with them whole. Or, pop the toasted seeds in a spice grinder to make your own ground coriander. Grind multiple times for a fine powder.

Delicious Coriander Recipes

Most recipes I’ve found using coriander seeds are for stews, soups, and dishes using vegetables and meats. Coriander has made its home in spice blends traditional in Indian dishes, Middle Eastern cuisine, and African foods.

My dad and I found coriander seeds in the back of the cabinet and created our own scrambled tofu dish that we seasoned with an abundance of coriander. We toast them in a dry cast iron skillet first, then grind them in a marble mortar. I recommend squeezing lemon over the tofu once its good and browned, and serve right away.

I found a recipe for tofu with coriander I’ve got to try. It includes sesame, and a side of soba noodles with pesto. Yum!

My favorite culinary writer, Alicia Kennedy, recommends making your own spice blends with coriander seeds, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger, and using with pumpkin baking recipes.

The Spice Way Ground Coriander - 4 oz resealable bag

Where to Find the Best Coriander

The best coriander seeds are from your own cilantro plant. Grow coriander in your kitchen window or slightly shady, moist soil.

You can buy good quality coriander seeds and ground coriander seeds by looking for organic varieties with an expiration date of no more than six months. Coriander with a longer expiration date is likely old, and will have lost its complex flavors and floral aroma.

Coriander is usually available in the spice isle of any grocery store, or online. Experiment with different spice blends that include coriander, like Za’atar spice blend.

How to Store Coriander Seeds and Ground Coriander

Coriander should always be sold in airtight containers and in a dark, dry place like your kitchen cabinet. Don’t keep this spice for more than six months because it looses its pungency quickly.

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