Have you never heard of coriander? Well, you surely have heard of cilantro, but did you know that they come from the same place? One is the spice, while the latter is the plant, and the flavor varies with the uses.
Both coriander and cilantro are common in the kitchen, but they are used differently. Coriander is a very powerful, almost citrusy spice that is used throughout India and the Middle East. Some people, though, dislike the flavor, and others have a hard time finding it.
What Is Coriander?
Before we get to it, let’s talk about, what is coriander?
Coriander comes from the Coriandrum sativum plant, also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley. When you hear the word coriander, it is referring to the seeds, whether whole or ground, of the plant. Cilantro is the fresh herb used in other cuisines, like Mexican and Thai.
Coriander has a particular taste, which is very nutty, lemony, and orange-like. Most grocery stores carry the whole seed, which tends to be stronger in flavor and is somewhat spicy. Traditionally, coriander is found ground in spices like garam masala or curry.
What Can I Replace Coriander With?
Now, let’s discuss the best substitutes for coriander, listed below when you can’t find any.
This spice is also popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. It comes from the dried, ground seeds of the Cuminum cyminum plant. This spice is very aromatic, with a warm and nutty flavor, making it ideal for meat dishes, sauces, and stews.
You can find cumin in any grocery store by the spice rack, and it does make a great substitute for coriander, so consider using it in equal amounts. The smell of cumin is particular though, so make sure you like it before you add it to a dish.
Related: What Are The Best Cumin Substitutes?
#2. Caraway Seeds
These seeds come from a tree that is part of the same family as coriander, so they are somewhat similar.
However, keep in mind that caraway seeds have a distinct anise taste with an added citrus and pepper flavor. Not everyone likes the flavor of anise, so make sure you try it before you add it to the recipe.
For replacing coriander, use one teaspoon of caraway seeds for every one teaspoon of coriander. Finding caraway seeds can be a little tricky at times. Consider an organic supermarket, although a local grocery store may also have them.
#3. Garam Masala
This blend of spices is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, as it combines many flavors of spices that grow in the area. Garam masala usually combines turmeric, cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, bay leaf, cumin, and coriander.
Since it already has coriander in it, it makes a good choice. It is a bit stronger though, so consider adding only about ¾ of a teaspoon for every one teaspoon of coriander.
Garam masala also has a distinct brown, earthy color, which can alter the color of certain dishes. You can buy this blend in many grocery stores, but you can also try a specialty store or organic supermarket.
#4. Curry Powder
Another Indian classic spice, curry powder also contains a blend of many spices. Some of these include ginger, turmeric, chili, fenugreek, and coriander. However, curry has a very distinct color, usually brown to yellow, which will alter the color of your dish.
Since curry contains chili and ginger, both of which are strong flavors. Consider using ½ a teaspoon of curry powder in place of one teaspoon of curry powder. Curry is found in many grocery stores, but you can find different varieties in farmer’s markets.
This seed is a good substitute for coriander because it contains a compound in common called anethole, which gives it a sweet flavor.
Fennel does have a very strong licorice or anise flavor, so it can alter the final product, and some people dislike this taste as well. This spice is common in many cuisines, including Indian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern.
You can buy fennel in almost all grocery stores, but organic supermarkets will also surely have it. To replace coriander, use the same amount as the recipe calls for, and only reduce it if you feel that the flavor overpowers your dish.
#6. Cilantro Leaves
These are the last option because the flavor is not the same, but they can work when in a pinch. Cilantro leaves have citrus, herbal aroma, and flavor, and some people dislike it entirely, but others love it. This herb is common in Latin American and Thai dishes, often used as a topping in meat dishes, soups, sauces, and dips.
To use cilantro leaves instead of coriander, make sure you chop the leaves evenly, using a very small pinch for every one teaspoon of coriander. You can buy cilantro in every produce section of the grocery store, and also farmer’s markets and organic stores.
Yes, you can use cumin instead of coriander. To do so, you can use equal amounts, but consider that the color and aroma will change. Cumin can be easier to find than coriander, so it can be used without a problem.
Not really. While the opposite is possible, the flavor of coriander is a bit too nutty and aromatic when compared to cilantro. Also, cilantro tends to be used in dishes as a garnish or topping, which makes coriander inadequate in this case. Use coriander in cases where the spice can dissolve, like sauces, stews, curry dishes, and meat marinades.
No. These two taste very differently. There is a genetic predisposition in some, that makes cilantro taste like soap. Yet, this won’t be a problem with coriander, which is the seed of the plant, that is usually toasted and ground, and is warm and nutty unlike cilantro.
Using coriander is important in many cuisines and it can make or break a dish. In some instances where coriander can’t be used, these 6 options are great alternatives in terms of flavor and aroma.
You should always measure accordingly and smell the spice or herb, as some people don’t find all of these suitable or likable.
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