"Coriander" – one of the most popular tasty herbs with a pleasing combination of flavours. We are sure you must have encountered it at least once as it is commonly used worldwide in different cuisines. Due to its distinct flavour and aroma, it is used to make dishes from curries, sauces and dips to desserts.
Yet, the taste of coriander is entirely subjective. It seems that you may either hate it entirely or be head over heels for it, nothing in between.
So, today let’s discuss in detail all those queries and questions revolving around the herb coriander.
What does coriander taste like? Why do some people dislike coriander? What to do if you dislike it? And how to add it to your daily diet? Are Coriander and Cilantro the same? Are Coriander and Parsley the same?
First thing first, let us elaborate on what coriander actually tastes like.
A fresh piece of coriander or cilantro tastes a bit sharp and lemony with a herby aftertaste. This taste changes when it is cooked.
Now, talking about their seeds. They have a rather sweet smell compared to the leaves and this aroma gets changed completely on grinding or roasting them.
Coriander seeds smell floral and contain a mix of citrus, sweet and spicy before grinding. If you ever had curry, that flavour is what we are talking about. When these seeds are roasted and then grounded, the nutty flavours in them get enhanced. And they also taste a bit lemonier.
Coriander has a diverse and multifaceted flavour profile. The flavour and taste of fresh coriander leaves, the dried ones and the powder are completely different from one another.
When talking about the fresh leaves, they have an earthy, musk-like smell with plain citrus notes. It is hard to replace in many dishes due to its pungent aroma.
The flavour and taste of coriander depend greatly on how long it is cooked. However, the best part is the cooking time doesn’t affect its pungent taste. It doesn’t mellow on cooking at all.
Fresh coriander leaves are widely used especially as a garnish on prepared dishes. But they can also be used in “tadkaa” (oil splutter) for making various Indian Cuisine Dishes. You can even add them while cooking to make various Asian dishes if you like.
Coriander stalks and roots are used in some Asian dishes and are especially a staple ingredient in the Thai region to make various soups, curries and gravies.
On the other hand, roasted and ground coriander seeds have a slightly vanilla-like flavour. Hence they are used in many deserts preparations all over the world but especially in Asia.
Coriander in its final form, coriander powder is a widely used basic spice in Indian and other Asian cuisines. It tastes mellower than seeds and fresh leaves. The flavour can be defined as rather warm and musky. It is used widely as a spice in curry powder along with chilli, turmeric and roasted cumin powder. Actually, a combination of roasted coriander powder and cumin powder is a staple spice in every Gujarati ethnic household in India.
So, we conclude that coriander is a multipurpose spice. Owing to its versatile flavours and forms, it can be used in many different ways. It is usually associated with a "spicy" flavour just like lemon is associated with a "tangy" flavour.
Now let’s look into why some people dislike it and what to do if you are one of them.
The dislike maybe something completely depending on a person’s preference of taste and flavours but some people associate coriander’s flavour with that of soap. And if you are one of them, this phenomenon has a scientific explanation for it. Let’s dig into it further.
So for those cilantro-haters for whom the plant tastes like soap, this issue is genetic. Yes, these people have a variation in a group of their olfactory receptor genes allowing them to strongly perceive the soapy flavoured aldehydes which are present in coriander leaves.
Although this genetic issue is only found in a small percentage of people, it varies geographically.
- South Europe – 13.4%
- All of Europe – 13.0%
- North Europe – 12.8%
- African-American – 9.2%
- Latino – 8.7%
- East Asia – 8.4%
- South Asia – 3.9%
So, if you are one of them then you are amongst the 20% population of the world who suffers from this issue. While this issue is difficult to deal with, surely there are alternatives for it.
It depends on which part of coriander you dislike. If you don’t like the leaves you can always substitute them for celery or fennel leaves which are both flavourful but in different ways. Fennel is more on the spicier side while celery is more on the herby side.
If the seeds are something that you don’t like you can replace them with fennel or cumin seeds.
Another option is to simply not add coriander at all to your dish. If what you are making is a curry, then buy a premade powder mix then look for one with less coriander in it. That should be checked in the ingredient list.
Taking inspiration from curry, a good way to cover up coriander’s flavour is by adding ginger or lemongrass to the dish.
Coriander goes well with almost all kinds of savoury dishes and a few sweet dishes as well. But there are some ways to use this spice to take your dish to the next level. Below are some of the ways to use coriander in your diet
- It complements the tangy and super spicy meat dishes with its fresh, lemony and herby flavour. You can use it to level up your meat dishes including lamb, chicken, pork and even duck. It even tastes great with seafood, just keep in mind the overpowering flavour of it.
- Whereas its earthy flavour goes really well with most of the soups, lentils and legumes.
- Just sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander leaves on your prepared dish to enhance its flavour.
- Coriander pairs in a great way with fruits, vegetables and spices. You can use it with onion, garlic, lemon, ginger, apple, etc. to give a nice kick of aroma and flavour.
- Ground coriander seeds can be used in various types of curries and even in gravies. It makes them thicker, creamier and delicious. It is widely used as a staple spice ingredient especially in Indian households.
- Fresh coriander paste can be used along with ginger, garlic and lemon for marination for pork and lamb. It goes really well with fish as well.
- Use fresh coriander paste by grinding coriander leaves together with some mint, green chillies, a clove of garlic, some lemon juice and salt. It makes a refreshing dip or chutney (what Indians call it) or pesto for fritters or almost anything fried.
- Use ground coriander seeds by adding them to the meat roasts and barbecues to get a deep flavour.
- You can use roasted coriander seeds in some sweet dishes and baked goods like shortbreads, cookies, sauces for desserts, etc.
- You can give your soup a refreshing lemony note by adding coriander leaves to them.
There are so many ways to use coriander as the main ingredient in Asia, especially in Indian Cuisine. So if you are willing to do so, do try them out.
This happens to be one of the biggest confusions related to coriander. So, are they really the same? Yes, cilantro and coriander are the same. Cilantro is just a Spanish word for coriander. But in North America, coriander and cilantro refer to two different parts of the plant. While coriander refers to the seeds cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant.
But globally, cilantro and coriander these two terms are used interchangeably. So, yes cilantro is coriander indeed.
This is another popular confusion revolving around coriander. Due to the similarity in appearance, people often get confused between parsley and coriander. While they look a little similar, these two are totally different plants (herbs).
While Coriander is also known as Chinese Parsley, its flavour differs a lot from the real parsley. Coriander is more sharp and full of flavour whereas parsley is mellower. Parsley tastes a bit grassy to the people used to coriander. In appearance, coriander leaves are round and flat while those of parsley are slightly long and curly.
Another difference between the two is their origin. While coriander has West Asian and East European origins, parsley has a Mediterranean origin.
That is all about the aromatic, flavourful, multifaceted spice or herb- coriander. We hope we were able to answer all the popular queries revolving around coriander. If you have any more food curiosities, do write back.