In the spice world, coriander is more like a back-up singer than the star. Coriander is like the Pips rather than Gladys Knight or like the Supremes standing behind Diana Ross. Coriander comes from the seeds of the cilantro plant but if you don’t like cilantro, don’t worry. Coriander doesn’t taste like cilantro at all. Coriander is earthy and peppery. It isn’t very strong though it has a definite subtle flavor. You can buy coriander in seeds or ground up into a brown powdered spice. Coriander is often used in Spanish, Mexican, Latin and Indian cuisine. It’s a common ingredient in spice rubs, marinades, chilis, sauces, soups and curries and works well with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes. It pairs well with all the other spices in the “C” club: chili powder, cinnamon, curry and especially, cumin. In fact, whenever I use cumin (which is my favorite spice), I also use coriander. If you have been wondering what to do with that bottle of coriander in your spice cabinet, here are 5 recipes that use this quiet but delicious spice.
1. Coriander-Spiced Oven Fries
Potatoes and spices are a match made in heaven. Potatoes are blank canvases that are just begging to be jazzed up with herbs and spices. While you can make a spice blend for your potatoes (cumin, garlic and paprika being my favorite), sometimes it’s nice to just highlight one spice to let its unique flavor shine through. To make Coriander-Spiced Oven Fries: preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice 3 or 4 large russet potatoes into fries. Toss the fries with 2 Tbs. olive oil, 2 tsp. cracked coriander seeds or ground coriander, and 1 tsp. dried thyme. Arrange the fries on the baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the fries and rotate the pans and bake for 20 more minutes or until the fries are golden brown and crisp. Season with salt and black pepper and serve.
Other recipes that pair coriander with potatoes include these Potato Samosas with Coconut-Mint Chutney, Sweet Potato and Kale Patties, Aloo Gobi, Saag Alu, and Traditional Indian Pot Roasted Potatoes.
2. Carrot Ginger Soup with Coriander
The earthiness of coriander pairs well with carrots which are also earthy as well as sweet. Ginger adds a bite to this this soup which is warm and comforting. To make Carrot Ginger Soup with Coriander: heat 1 Tbs. vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and saute 1 large chopped onion for 3 minutes until softened. Add 2 lbs. diced carrots to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes. Mix in 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger and 1 Tbs. coriander seeds. Add 6 cups vegetable broth and let the soup come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for half an hour or until the carrots are tender. Transfer the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Indian-Spiced Grilled Eggplant Steaks
Eggplant is another earthy vegetable that pairs well with coriander. I use coriander as part of an Indian spice mix to flavor eggplant steaks that get grilled to perfection. To make my Indian-Spiced Grilled Eggplant Steaks: in a bowl, blend 1 tsp. each garlic powder, ground cumin, ground coriander and curry powder, ½ tsp. each kosher salt and garam masala and ¼ tsp. ground turmeric. Cut 2 large eggplants into 8 thick slices. Sprinkle the spice mix over the slices. Drizzle 1 Tbs. vegetable oil over the eggplant and brush the spices evenly over the slices with a pastry brush. Lay the eggplant on parchment lined baking sheets and roast for 15-20 minutes or until softened and tender.
For more eggplant recipes that use coriander, try this Iranian Eggplant and Chickpeas Stew With Coconut-Almond Sauce, Eggplant Garbanzo Stew with Polenta, and this East African dish of Eggplant Curry with Chickpeas.
4. Easy Spanish Rice
Spanish rice is my favorite rice ever! Rice and spice is my ultimate combination. I always use brown rice so it’s nutritious. The turmeric gives it that yellow color. You could also get the red-yellow color and taste typical of Spanish rice by adding a few threads of saffron. Whenever I make Spanish food, I used cumin and when I use cumin, I also use coriander. They go together perfectly. To make my Easy Spanish Rice: add 2 tsp. vegetable oil to a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 diced red onion, 1 diced bell pepper and 2 Tbs. chopped green olives to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Rinse 2 cups brown rice and add it to the saucepan. Stir it around with the veggies and make sure it gets coated with the oil. Let it cook for about 3 minutes until the rice gets a little toasted. Add 3 ½ cups of water, 1 tsp. each ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika and kosher salt, ½ tsp. each ground turmeric and black pepper and a bay leaf. Cook over high heat until the water boils. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. The water should be absorbed and the rice should be fluffy and slightly chewy. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, an additional 10 minutes. Mix in 4 chopped scallions and 2 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot with my Habichuelas Guisadas or Puerto Rican Stewed Beans which also contain coriander.
For more Spanish-inspired coriander dishes, try this Mexican-Spiced Tofu Scramble, Chili Tortilla Lasagna, Jicama Burgers with Cumin, Coriander, Dill and Lemon, and Spicy Bean Chili and Rice Tacos with Guacamole and Cashew Sour Cream.
5. Fennel Cabbage Orange Slaw
The subtle earthiness and peppery flavor of coriander makes it pair well with the bright sweetness of fennel and orange. To make my delicious and colorful Fennel Cabbage Orange Slaw: remove the core from a bulb of fennel, cut the bulb into quarters and then slice each quarter thinly. Toss the fennel with ½ head of thinly sliced purple cabbage, 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper and 3 thinly sliced scallions. Toss with slices of 2 large oranges. In a separate bowl, combine 3 Tbs. lime juice, 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, ½ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. ground coriander, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the slaw and toss to coat. Mix in the reserved fennel fronds and ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro. Let the slaw sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. For another fennel and coriander pairing, try these Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites.
Every now and then it’s good to break out of our routines and try something new. If there’s a spice you’re not familiar with, try making a few dishes with it. Use The Ultimate Spice Guide for Vegan Cooking for help with which foods and spices pair well together. This week, give coriander a try and tell us what you think.
Lead Image Photo: Chili Tortilla Lasagna