As promised, I am sticking to my plan of introducing one spice at a time to My Spice Cupboard and heres one more – Coriander.
Coriander (dhaania) Seeds are the seeds of a mature cilantro plant. The tannish yellow globes are very light in weight and have a subtle citrus flavor. They are grown in Europe and in India too. The coriander seeds grown in India tend to have a more of a citrusy flavor. When selecting them at the store, they should look pale yellow, not dull and dry.
Coriander (dhania) Powder is made from ground up coriander seeds. In comparison to the dark olive of cumin powder, coriander powder does look rather dry and ‘hay-yee’ in color. It has a rather loose texture and falls apart if pinched together. You can purchase the powder from the store, saves you the hassle of grinding it yourself, but it may have lost some of its flavor.
I personally, prefer to dry roast the seeds a few cups at a time, till they are fragrant. This releases the essential oils. Wait for the seeds to cool down, before grinding them in a coffee grinder.
I have a coffee grinder set aside for ‘spices only’. It doesn’t have to be a complicated machine.
I love to do this, but I don’t do it as often as I should and that is grinding the spices with a stone mortar and pestle. The rhythmic notes of the pestle moving in circular motions against the popping of the seeds and the grinding against the mortar is so soothing. A small fraction of time where I am at total peace. Yes, grinding the seeds this way is time consuming but so satisfying!
Coriander and Cumin go hand-in-hand in several curry dishes. They compliment each other perfectly.
Coriander is used commonly in powder form in Indian cooking. There are a few instances where the seeds are used whole. For instance, the coriander seeds are roughly crushed between the palms of the hand and mixed into ground meat, beef, lamb or chicken, intended for the grill.
A common question when teaching a class on Indian Cooking is if coriander can be substituted for cilantro and vice versa. Unfortunately not, even though they are from the same plant.
So there you have it, another important component in Indian Cooking – Coriander.