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Botanical Name: Apium graveolens
Hindi Name: Ajmud
Celery owes its origin to the land of Europe and the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated since the last 3,000 years. This spice hence is known in the Mediterranean since millennia, and has its mention in the Greek epics. Celery was considered a sacred and holy plant in the classical period of Greece, and the winners of the Nemean Games wore the celery leaves. The Romans valued celery more for cooking than for religion.
In India, mostly produced in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Indian celery dominates the world market. Several commercial grades of celery, besides its essential oils, are exported to USA, UK, Singapore, France and Japan.
Celery seed is the dried ripe fruit of a herbaceous plant that usually grows to a height of 60-180 cms. The well developed leaves are borne on long expanded petioles. The rigid fruit is 1-1.5 mm long and 1 mm in diameter. Each fruit has a single seed, united or separated pericarp. It is brown in colour and bitter in taste.
Its composition is as follows:
The epicarp has oil ducts from which a pale yellow, volatile oil with a persistent odour is extracted. The celery seed oil is much valued as a fixative and an ingredient of novel perfumes. The celery chaff oil has a harsher and coarser odour and flavour than those of celery seed oil.
The fatty oil or the oil of celery, is used as an antispasmodic, nerve stimulant, intestinal antiseptic and a diuretic. It is also a carminative, tonic, nervine and aphrodisiac. It is utilised as a tonic in combination with other herbs, promoting restfulness, sleep and lack of hysteria. It is excellent in relieving rheumatism.
In Europe, the roots and leaves are used for garnishing purposes, as well as a vegetable. The leaves are cooked in soups or sauces to enhance the taste. The root also is cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
Celery plays quite an important part in the Creole cookery of New Orleans, where celery stalks show up frequently in dishes like gumbo. Celery fruits, with their strong aroma, are ground and mixed with salt, and used in cuisines of many countries.
In North India, the dried fruits are used as a culinary spice. The pleasingly crisp texture and subtle flavour of the celery seeds, the exotic odour of the green stalk and leaves, and a warm and slightly bitter taste of this dried fruit from the perennial herbaceous plant has made celery as useable foods and is also used in beverages, drugs and perfumery.
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