Coriandrum sativum L.
Carrot Family: Umbelliferae (Apiaceae)
The so called coriander seeds are actually the dried fruits of the coriander (cilantro) herb. They are globular in shape, are either small (1.5-3mm) in diameter or large (3-5mm) in diameter. They are botanically called a schizocarp. All parts of the coriander herb are edible including the roots which are an important part of Thai cuisine.
The small fruited varieties are mainly grown in the temperate regions and are mainly used to extract essential oils and the large fruited varieties are mainly grown in the tropics and are used as a spice in whole or ground form.
Although coriander seeds and leaves (cilantro) come from the same plant, they taste quite different. The leaves are described as pungently fragrant and the seed is described as warm and nutty with a citrus flavour, especially when crushed. The lemony citrus flavour is due to presence of the terpenes linalool and pinene.
What are coriander seeds used for?
Coriander seeds are pungently spicy yet sweet and slightly fruity with a pleasant spicy aroma. They are used in cuisines, worldwide in whole or ground (powdered) form. Ground coriander loses flavour in storage so is best roasted and ground or crushed, and used fresh. Roasting the seeds in a dry pan enhances flavour, aroma and pungency.
Coriander can be used in sweet and savoury dishes like soups, curries, stews, roasts, casseroles, salad dressings, breads, cakes, or with poultry, meat, fish and pork.
Both the leaves (cilantro) and seeds used extensively in India for cooking, flavouring and garnishing foods.
Ground coriander is a component of many different spice mixtures including garam masala, various curries, mixed spice, curry powder, dhana jeera, harissa and pilau masala. it can be added to chutneys or casseroles and can be used in cakes and other baked goodies.
Coriander seeds are also widely used in pickling vegetables. They can also be added to savoury pickles. In Germany and South Africa they are used to spice Boerewors sausage.
Coriander seeds can also be used in brewing certain styles of beer especially Belgian wheat beers in combination with orange peel.
Crushed whole coriander seeds are delicious for flavouring homemade burgers.