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Old 05-07-2016, 01:17 PM   #1
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Coriander seed discussion

So I have a biryani on the go at the moment which has once again had the resurgence of the mystery bitter taste. I have spent a long time belieivng that it was burnt coriander. Though I started to wonder why many recipes call for dry spice powders to be added before water. "this will surely make the burnt flavour appear!" I thought. So I did a test.

I ground some raw coriander seeds and some which I (thought were) over-toasted and I have an interesting result. The ground raw seeds have a bitterness reminiscent of that which I can taste in my biryani, but the toasted seeds were a lot less bitter. Has anyone else had a similar experience with coriander seed. Do you think I have finally found the problem? The issue is that I cannot take out the powders once added, so experimenting could result in a couple of poor dishes. Should I focus on toasting my coriander seeds a bit longer next time? (Admittedly, they smelt different to usual, a smell which I remember from before I started worrying about burning the seeds)

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Old 05-07-2016, 04:36 PM   #2
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I've never had a problem with coriander seed adding a burnt flavor. Either roasted dry or frying in ghee...if you have enough ghee it your seeds or dry powder should never burn. watch your heat when you add the powder and don't be afraid to add water relatively quickly.

I believe that many Indian recipes and techniques have evolved from cooking temperatures that may not be as high as our electric or gas stoves typically produce. I usually get a good heat at a medium setting. Just have patience and let the ghee get hot
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Old 05-07-2016, 04:46 PM   #3
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Agree with Rock. The reason spices are added to fat is to release fat-soluble flavors into it and intensify them. This practice also distributes the spices more evenly throughout the dish.
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Old 05-08-2016, 10:12 AM   #4
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Hi Suthseaxa, I cook a lot of Indian food, so maybe I can offer some help. I haven't worked with WHOLE coriander seeds (through a spice grinder is on my wish list...), but I always add the coriander powder at the end, and that's what I've seen a lot of Indian recipes call for. It's supposed to add a bright lemony flavor and the flavor seems to become warped if you add it too early, so that may be your problem. It's also just a slightly sour ingredient by nature, so maybe you just need a finer grind? Also, if your spices are smoking too much, don't be afraid to add a tiny bit of water or tomato pulp to the pan, or add a little more oil before adding the spices. It is a fine balance between fully cooking those spices and burning them, I know, and it can take a little while to get the hang of.
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Old 05-09-2016, 02:56 PM   #5
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Wes hāl, Amy J! I found that roasting the coriander seeds longer actually improved the lemony smell. In fact, I found myself thinking "wow, I remember this smell" as I roasted for longer and longer. I cannot find the biryani recipe I use any more, but the coriander powder is added early and fried with the onions/ginger/garlic before adding tomatoes.
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Old 05-19-2016, 01:01 AM   #6
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Hmm, I could imagine the whole coriander seeds would need to be roasted much longer than coriander powder to release flavor.

Many recipes just call for adding the spice powders all at once, but many others I've seen call for adding the coriander powder toward the end. (Similarly to how you'll see a lot of mixed opinions when to add black pepper, since it can either burn or lose flavor if you add it to early, but many people do not realize this.)

And like I said, sometimes you just need to go with your instincts in each Indian recipe to make sure the flavors of the spices are released enough without burning them. Good luck!
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