The coriander plant produces very small fruits that are dried, ground, and used as a spice. While coriander seeds and cilantro leaves are both citrusy, coriander seeds generally have a spicier, warmer character and the aroma is more akin to orange peel than the lemon scent of cilantro leaves.
Most curry recipes use coriander seeds as a central spice. Garam masala, an Indian spice blend used in most curries and other Indian dishes, contains coriander. Coriander seeds often make an appearance in pickling spices, especially in sauerkraut. This spice can also be added to a wide variety of everyday dishes like roast potatoes, hard boiled eggs, grilled lamb or chicken to add a warm, citrus flavor.
Coriander seeds are generally ground before use, but the whole spice can be added into soups, stews, and pickling brine and strained out before serving. There are three common methods of grinding coriander seeds that slightly alter the spice’s aroma and flavor. The seeds can be soaked for ten minutes before grinding with a mortar and pestle, or in a spice mill. This method is easiest if a spice mill is not available, as soaking the seeds makes them easier to grind by hand. Toasting the seeds in a dry sauté pan before grinding adds a bit of smokiness to the spice, but be careful not to toast them too long, because burnt spice tastes terrible. Also, simply grinding the seeds without any fuss beforehand works perfectly fine. Once the spice is ground, it loses its flavor quickly, so using it quickly after being prepared is advised. Pre-ground coriander seeds are available, but to get the full flavor of the spice, grinding your own seeds is recommended.