Coriander is a flavour which will divide a room – some people love to eat it while others love to hate it. I used to not like it but now I can’t get enough of it – weird, eh?
The herb we know as coriander has the botanic name Coriandrum sativum, while the name cilantro is the Spanish translation of the word coriander. In Australia we use coriander but as some of our celebrity chefs sell cookbooks in the US where the leaves and stalks are called cilantro the term has become more commonly used here.
People who have families or cultures which use more coriander are more likely to like it and eat it. With research showing some people have taste receptors for the less pleasant compounds in the plant.
Studies have confirmed the flavour of coriander to be one of the most divisive.
Some describe the flavour of coriander as citusy, fresh and zingy, while the haters describe it as soapy, dirty or tasting of bugs. There are so many compounds in strong flavoured foods like herbs and coriander is no exception, it contains one type of aldehyde which is like a chemical in the liquid squirted out by stink bugs!
What do you taste when you eat coriander?
It has been used in traditional medicine and more recently the seed and herb essential oil has been investigated for bioactive compounds and has been described as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities, among many others.
If you love coriander, check out my recipe, below. If you hate coriander and it’s in a recipe you are cooking, try replacing it with parsley or basil.
Red lentil soup with coriander yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion, chopped finely
- 1 stick of celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3 or more garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red chilli, deseeded, chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon mild curry powder
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- 3 tomatoes, roughly chopped, or a 400g tin of tomatoes
- 1 L water
- 1 stock cube (optional)
- A few grinds of pepper
- 1 cup of Greek yoghurt
- 1/3 cup chopped coriander
- Sourdough rye bread, to serve
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until onion is soft. Add in celery, carrot and optional chilli, cook for another few minutes. Add curry powder. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add lentils, tomatoes, water, pepper and optional stock cube. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir every now and then to make sure the lentils don’t stick on the bottom of the pan. Add extra water if it seems too thick.
- When lentils are cooked use a stick mixer to blend all or ladle it into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Stir the chopped coriander into the Greek yoghurt.
- Ladle soup into bowls. Top with yoghurt and coriander and serve with warmed sourdough bread.
It’s a great lunch or dinner or pack it for a work or school lunch where it can be eaten hot or cold.
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