Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania, is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae, and is used in seeds form or leaves form! The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, or (in North America) cilantro. The leaves have a different taste from the seeds, with citrus overtones. The fresh leaves are an ingredient in many Indian foods (such as chutneys and salads), in Chinese and Thai dishes, in Mexican cooking, particularly in salsa and guacamole and as a garnish, and in salads in Russia, Ukraine, and other CIS countries. Chopped coriander leaves are a garnish on Indian dishes such as dal. As heat diminishes their flavor, coriander leaves are often used as raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. In Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in large amounts, and cooked until the flavor diminishes. The leaves spoil quickly when removed from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried or frozen. The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds. In Indian cuisine they are called dhania.
The word coriander in food preparation may refer solely to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavor when crushed, due to terpenes linalool and pinene. Coriander can be described to have qualities such as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavored.
The nutritional profile of coriander seed is different from the fresh stems and leaves, the vitamin content being less for the plant, with some being absent entirely. However, the seeds do provide significant amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
Coriander is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly before grinding to enhance and alter the aroma. Ground coriander seed loses flavor quickly in storage and is best ground fresh.
Coriander seed is a spice in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. It acts as a thickener.
Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are eaten as a snack. They are the main ingredient of the two south Indian dishes: sambhar and rasam. Coriander seeds are boiled with water and drunk as indigenous medicine for colds.
Outside of Asia, coriander seed is used widely in the process for pickling vegetables. In Germany and South Africa (see boerewors) the seeds are used while making sausages. In Russia and Central Europe, coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread (e.g. borodinsky bread), as an alternative to caraway. Coriander seeds are used in European cuisine today, though they were more important in former centuries.
Coriander seeds are used in brewing certain styles of beer, particularly some Belgian wheat beers. The coriander seeds are used with orange peel to add a citrus character.
It has good digestive property and is a diuretic. It can be used externally on aching joints, rheumatism, and good for coping with sore throat, allergies, digestion problems, and hay fever. When you are suffering from a gripping stomach pain, drinking a few sips of extraction obtained from coriander seeds, dill, caraway, fennel, and aniseed from your kitchen spice closet is perhaps the most effective carminative remedy for this ailment!
Coriander seeds contain many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The characteristic aromatic flavor of coriander seeds comes from the many fatty acids and essential volatile oils. Some important fatty acids in the dried seeds include petroselinic acid, linoleic acid (omega 6), oleic acid, and palmitic acid. In addition, the seeds contain essential oils such as linalool (68%), a-pinene (10%), geraniol, camphene, terpine etc. Together; these active principles are responsible for digestive, carminative, and anti-flatulent properties of the seeds.
As in other spices, coriander is also rich in of dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 41.9 g of fiber. Much of this fiber is metabolically inert insoluble fiber, which helps increase bulk of the food by absorbing water throughout the digestive system and help easing constipation condition.
In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in colon, thus help lower serum LDL cholesterol levels. Together with flavonoid anti-oxidants, fiber composition of coriander helps protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers.
The seeds are an excellent source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for cell metabolism and red blood cell formation. Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Unlike other dry spice seeds that lack in vitamin C, coriander seeds contain an ample amount of this anti-oxidant vitamin. 100 g of dry seeds provide 21 mg or 35% of RDI of this vitamin.
Furthermore, the seeds indeed are the storehouse of many vital B-complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.