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Botanical name: Coriandrum sativum Linn
Family Name: Umbelliferae.
Indian names are as follows:
Fresh coriander leaves and its seeds are too well known to need any introduction or description in India, particularly to housewives, as coriander is used almost daily in scores of curries, various dishes and above all the paste of the leaves is popular as a chutney or sauce.
It is said the plant was known to India since Vedic era, but was more popular for its fresh leaves and Indians did not use its seeds as spice till Muslims arrived in Indian scene to introduce its seeds as spice. That is perhaps the reason why bulk of the coriander seeds is consumed in Mughlai preparations, which are of Muslim origin.
Practically all parts of the plant, that is, tender stem, the leaves, flowers and the fruits have a pleasant aromatic odor. The coriander leaves also constitute one of the richest sources of Vitamin C (250 mg/100g.) and Vitamin A (5,200 I.U./100g.). Its use as a condiment in curries, and particularly as fresh leaves for garnishing of curries and other dishes, and in chutney, as an appetizer is well known.
The flowers of this plant yield plenty of nectar. Its honey is known for the taste as well as for aroma. The honey is not only rich in vitamins and minerals but also constitutes more of unsaturated sugar than saturated sugar.
Composition of coriander seeds varies, depending upon its country of origin and the agro climatic conditions under which grown, harvested, dried and stored. The following typical analysis gives a fair idea of its composition:
Volatile oil:0.3 %
Non-volatile ether extract: 22 %
Total ether extract (fat):19.6 %
Crude fiber:31.5 %
Total ash:5.3 %
Calcium: 0.08 %
Phosphorus: 0.44 %
Potassium: 1.2 %
Vitamin B1: 0.26 mg/100
Vitamin B2: 0.23 mg/100g
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): 12.0 mg/100g
Vitamin A: 175 i.u./100g
Coriander seed contains volatile oil, fixed oil, tannins, cellulose, pentosans and pigments.
Coriander fresh leaves have following composition:
Total ash:1.7 %
Vitamin B2: 60 mg/100g
Niacin:0.8 mg/100 g
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): 135 mg/100 g
Vitamin A:10,460 I.U./100 g
The aromatic odor and taste of coriander fruits (seeds) is due to an essential oil. The amount of oil varies considerably according to the source of the fruits, Indian coriander being rather poor in oil content (0.4 to 0.8 %). The fruits from European countries are usually rich in oil, and samples from test plots in Norway have yielded as much as 1.4 to 1.7 % oil and up to 2 % in Russian coriander. The low oil content of Indian coriander is stated to be due to the loss of a portion of the volatile oil during the drying of fruits, too much splitting of fruits, and faulty harvesting procedure of the already inferior variety of coriander.
Indian coriander is not generally preferred for the distillation of essential oil by some Western countries. This is because the Indian seeds are low in essential oil and not uniform in color and grade. Hence, there is urgent need to evolve new suitable high yielding, firm and disease resistant varieties, rich in essential oil adaptable to the various agro climatic regions of the country. In order that quality of final product is acceptable in accordance to international standard, thus to ensure appropriate value of the product, there is need to implement scientific post harvesting technology. To achieve this goal, not only there is a need for proper research and transfer of technology, but also there is need for proper monitoring and proper quality assurance system should be in place.
The volatile oil is made up of hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds. The hydrocarbon accounts for about 20 % of the essential oil. The major oxygenated compounds present are: d-linalool or coriandrol (45 to 70 %). The oil causes irritation when in contact with skin for a long time. The entire plant and unripe fruit also yields essential oil.
Besides the essential oil, the seed contain 19 to 21 % of a fatty oil having a dark, brownish green color and an odor similar to that of coriander oil. The oil has the following characteristics:
The oil solidifies on keeping. Sodium soap prepared from the oil has a pleasant odor and good lathering properties. It is soft in consistency and green in color.
Good quality oleoresin can be extracted from coriander seeds. The oleoresin is used for flavoring beverages, pickles, sweets and other delicacies.
The fresh stem, leaves and fruits of coriander have a pleasant aromatic odor. The entire plant, when young, is used in preparing chutneys and sauces, and the leaves are used for flavoring curries and soups. The fruits are extensively used as condiment in preparation of curry powder, pickling spices, sausages and seasonings. They are used for flavoring pastry, cookies, buns, cakes and tobacco products. It is probably one of the first spices to be used by mankind, having been known as early as 5000 B.C., and is one of the important ingredients in the manufacture of the following food flavoring:
Pork, frankfurter, meat, fish and salads
Soda and syrups
Gelatin, dessert and pudding
Candy and preserves
Coriander seeds are considered to be carminative, diuretic, tonic, stomachic, antibilious, refrigerant and aphrodisiac. Considering various virtues it is also possible to manufacture a number of medicinal products. Alcoholic extracts as mother tincture of this herb is popular among homeopaths.
In the modern era of technology it is also possible to preserve and pack the fresh green leaves as paste or otherwise to market it for consumption.