What To Look For
Dried coriander seeds are typically sold whole. European plants produce a smaller seed than those from India, but with no noticeable difference in flavor. The taste of coriander seeds is vastly different from the taste of the fresh leaves of the plant, and can therefore not be substituted.
Coriander seeds have a warm, pleasing, and slightly nutty aroma that appeals to most palates, whereas the intense taste of the fresh leaves is often perceived as over whelming and soapy by people not used to it. The dried seeds have a much more intense aroma and its use is therefore preferable to ground powder. They should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark space. Like all spices, they have a limited shelf life.
How To Use It
Coriander seeds can be used like pepper – they can either be used whole, crushed (a mortar and pestle works best), or ground in a spice mill. They are softer than pepper corns and therefore easier to crush or grind. Dry roasting in a pan intensifies their aroma.
The seeds are an essential ingredient in curry powder as well as Indian garam masala. In India and Sri Lanka, coriander seeds are typically dry roasted in a pan or fried in oil together with other spices, and form the basis for highly aromatic fish, meat, and vegetable curries.
In North Africa, the Middle East and Arabic countries dried coriander seeds are often found in spice mixes, such as the Moroccan ras al-hanout, the Ethiopian berbere, or baharat, a spice mix popular in the Gulf States.