Although it is associated with dishes from warm climates, coriander is remarkably happy growing in the cold UK.  While clearing a new allotment plot on a cold April morning I noticed an intense and very familiar scent on the breeze.  Looking down I realised that I was standing in the middle of a patch of self-sown coriander plants.  Left alone, they had germinated early enough to produce an excellent crop of leaves before the summer heat triggered the bolting process. They then produced an abundant crop of seed.  I haven’t had to buy coriander as a spice for years now as my plants produce enough seed to keep us supplied for the next twelve months and plenty more to sow for the next year’s crop.

Coriander seed is one of the core constituents of many South Asian spice mixes, along with cumin and chilli, and also mixes well with cinnamon.  It is essential in garam masala.  Sometimes it is roasted as a snack and you may find it in spicy snack mixes.  Coriander is also commonly used to flavour rye breads (I always use it to make a Borodinsky sourdough rye, top left below), beers – and my favourite – South African  boerwors.

Clockwise from the top – Borodinsky, New York Rye with Fennel, poppy-seed bagel