Coriander seeds are aromatic, spicy, nutty, and citrusy with notes of sweetness. They are one of the essential ingredients that you will find in Indonesian cooking.
What are Coriander Seeds?
Coriander seeds are technically the dried fruits found on the coriander plants. The shape of the seeds is like spherical-shaped small-sized balls that have soft ridge-like structures with yellowish-brown color. In some regions, the use of the word coriander in food preparation always refers to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant itself.
How Do Coriander Seeds Taste Like?
Coriander seeds are mainly used to thicken the gravy and to add flavor. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavor when crushed, due to the presence of the terpenes linalool and pinene. They are also described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavored. They taste slightly bitter but play well when combined with other spices and herbs. Simple toasting in a pan and crushing prior to cooking allow the spice to take on a more robust floral aroma as the oils are released from the sweets.
Whole Dried Seeds vs Ground Powder
They are commonly sold as whole dried seeds, but can also be purchased in ground form. When grinding at home, it can be roasted or heated on a pan briefly to enhance the aroma before grinding it in a grinder or a mortar and pestle. Ground coriander loses its flavor quickly, so they are best grounded as needed.
Where To Buy
Like other spices, coriander seeds are best kept away from light and moisture. The best way to do this is by keeping them in an airtight container in a dark cupboard. Properly stored, the whole dried seeds will generally stay at their best quality for about 3 to 4 years.
It is better to buy them than the ground powder because the ground spice loses its potency quickly. You should grind them yourself just before adding them to your dish. This ensures that you get the full flavor of that spice while also lengthening the shelf life.
If your only option is to buy the ground powder, I recommend buying just as much as you need in smaller quantities. You do not want to keep it for long because the flavor will diminish after two to six months.
How to Prepare
The best way to get the maximum flavor out of coriander seeds is to toast or fry them. Heat is helpful for drawing out the volatile oil that is responsible for the flavor of coriander seeds.
Heat a frying pan, do not add oil. Add the seeds and toast over low-medium heat, stirring constantly until the aroma is released. Remove from the pan and cool. The seeds then can be used whole or crushed.