Botanical Name: Coriandrum Satirum

Family: Umbelliferae

Hindi Name: Dhania

Coriander is a native of the Mediterranean region. It is commercially grown in India, Russia, Central Europe, Guatemala, Mexico and USA. The name 'coriander' is based on the Greek word 'kopis' which means 'bug'. In the countries of Europe, northern Africa, and Asia, coriander seeds are an important spice.

The cultivation of coriander dates back to ancient species in the Mediterranean region. Coriander has a mention in the holy Bible, and is a thriving crop in the Indian subcontinent because of the availability of the required environment and climatic conditions.

Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh are major producers of coriander in India. The coriander grown in Russia and Central Europe has smaller fruits, and contains more essential oil than the Oriental variety, which is cultivated for fruits and leaves. The tender stem, the leaves, the small white flowers, and the fruits-all have a pleasant, aromatic odour. The leaves are very rich in vitamin C and vitamin A.

Its composition is as follows:

  • Protein: 1.3 %
  • Volatile oil: 0.3 %
  • Fat: 19.6 %
  • Fibre: 31.5 %
  • Carbohydrates: 24 %
  • Minerals: 5.3 %
  • Calcium 0.08 %
  • Iron: 0.006 %
  • Phosphorus:.0.44 %
  • Sodium: 0.02 %
  • Potassium: 1.2 %
  • Vit B1: 0.26 mg/100g
  • Vit B2: 0.23 mg/ 100g
  • Niacin: 3.2 mg/100g

In the ripe fruits, the content of essential oil is comparably low. The oil consists mainly of linalool. The taste of the fresh herb is due to an essential oil that is almost entirely made up of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds.

Besides the essential oil, the seeds also contain fatty oil which solidifies on keeping without using it. Herb oil is also extracted from the stalks and leaves of coriander. The fruits and leaves possess totally different flavours, and can therefore not substitute for each other. Drying destroys most of the leaves' fragrance, yet dried coriander leaves are used in some Georgian and Irani cuisine.

Coriander leaves are in popular use in almost all parts of Asia-India, Thailand, Vietnam and China, in the form of garnish for a variety of dishes. In India coriander leaves are used regionally. They are indispensable in Thailand as they are used for green curry paste. In Vietnam and China the chopped leaves appear as decorations on nearly every dish. Coriander leaves resemble European parsley leaves in a number of ways-they have a similar shape, and both are best used raw, as the flavour vanishes after prolonged cooking.

Arabic cooking makes use of both coriander leaves and fruits. Use of coriander leaves is also frequent in Latin America, especially Mexico. Due to the increasing interest in ethnic cookery, and the success of Mexican and Thai restaurants, coriander leaves are now more appreciated in Europe than ever before. In India, coriander is an essential part of curry powder and garam masala.

In Ethiopia it is use for berbere. Roasting of coriander is much
practised in India and Sri Lanka to enhance the flavour.

As a fragrant spice, coriander is today valued as much for its medicinal properties as for its use as a condiment. As a food flavourant, the young plant is used in preparing chutneys and sauces, and for flavouring soups and curries. The fruits (or seeds) are used as a condiment in pickling spices, sausages and seasonings, pastries, cookies and buns, cakes, and tobacco products. It is used in beverages and liquour as a flavour in USA and Europe. It is used in the manufacture of bakery items, soda and syrup, candies and preserves, gelatin desserts and puddings. It is stimulant, aromatic and carminative. Coriander leaves increase secretion and discharge of urine, reduce fever, check excessive menstrual flows, and are helpful in treating digestive disorders.

Coriander water taken regularly, helps lower blood cholesterol. It is also a good diuretic and stimulates the kidneys. A teaspoon of coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder, is an effective remedy for pimples, blackheads and dry skin. The oil of coriander is used in perfumery.

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