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Coriander Seeds or Dhania are core spice for any kitchen cupboard. When ripe the seeds of the coriander herb have a distinctive woody citrus-minty and spicy aroma. Coriander seeds have a slight lemony flavour, which combines particularly well with ginger.

Coriander seeds are small and almost spherical, are some 5 mm (¼ inch) in diameter and have 12 characteristic ribs that run lengthways down these spheres. Coriander seeds fall into 2 categories: the Asia Minor seeds are light-tan to pale-brown and have a lemony aroma and taste; the Indian seeds are smaller, often darker brown, and taste less of citrus and more sage-like and herby in flavour. Toasting coriander seeds accentuates their orange-citrus notes, plus adds a certain nuttiness to their character.

Coriander seeds are really useful and flexible spices that are very forgiving - you cannot really use too much coriander as it is mild. Corainder. also, blends well with other spices, seeming to draw together flavours into a more perfect whole - Ian Hemphill calls this characteristic "amalgamating". They work both in sweet and savoury recipes.

Coriander seeds respond well to dry roasting and these then form the basis for many curry powders and masala mixes. Fior North African cuisine, coriander is used in harissa and ras el hanout, while in the Middle East it forms part of baharat spice mixes. In Europe, coriander is found in pickling spices and mixed spice blends.

Further reading

  • Hemphill, I., Hemphill, K. (2014) The Spice and Herb Bible, Robert Rose. ISBN: 9780778804932.
  • Norman, J. (2015) Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference, DK Publishing. ISBN: 9781465435989.