Coriander is both an annual and a perennial herb. It is erect, sweet smelling and grows up to 20 cms in length with many branches. The stem is feeble, smooth and light green in colour. Leave~ are compound, thin, alternate and easily breakable. Fruits are spherical-about one centimetre in diameter with some longitudinal ridges. They are green when tender and brownish yellow when ripe. They have a sweet fragrance.
Coriander is a native of the Mediterranean region, where it has been grown since ancient times. It is extensively cultivated in Europe, North Africa, India, South America, Malaysia, Thailand and China. It thrives in black soil and arid regions.
Coriander is rich in various food elements. An analysis of coriander leaves shows them to contain moisture 86.3 per cent, protein 3.3 per cent, fat 0.6 per cent, minerals 2.3 per cent, fibre 1.2 per cent and carbohydrates 6.3 per cent per 100 grams. The mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. They also contain sodium, sodium and oxalic acid. Their calorific value is 44.
Coriander seeds are dried when they are ripe. They have an aromatic odour and agreeable spicy taste. An analysis of the seeds shows them to contain moisture 11.2 per cent, protein 14.1 per cent, fat 16.1 per cent, minerals 4.4 per cent, fibre 32.6 per cent and carbohydrates 21.6 per cent per 100 grams. Their mineral and vitamin contents include calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Their calorific value is 288.
Indian coriander contains an essential oil which causes irritation when in contact with skin for a long time. Besides essential oil, the seeds also contain a fatty oil.
The leaves of coriander are stimulant and tonic. They strengthen the stomach and promote its action, relieve flatulence, increase secretion and discharge of urine and reduce fever. They act as an aphrodisiac, help in the removal of catarrhal matter and phlegm from the bronchial tubes thereby counteracting any spasmodic disorders. Coriander seeds reduce fever. and promote a feeling of coolness. Coriander juice is highly beneficial in deficiencies of vitamin A, B!, B2' C and iron.
One or two teaspoons of coriander juice, added to fresh buttermilk, is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders such as indigestion, nausea, dysentery, hepatitis and ulcerative colitis. It is also helpful in typhoid fever.
Dry coriander treats diarrhoea and chronic dysentery, as well as being useful in acidity. A chutney made from dry coriander, green chillies, grated coconut, ginger and black grapes without seeds is a remedy for abdominal pain due to indigestion.
One teaspoon fresh coriander juice, mixed with I or 2 seeds of banana., given once daily regularly, for a week is a very effective preventive measure against small pox. It is believed that putting fresh leaf juice in the eyes, during an attack of small pox, prevents eye damage.
Regular drinking of coriander water helps lower blood cholesterol as it is a good. diuretic and stimulates the kidney. It is prepared by boiling dry seeds of coriander and straining the decoction after cooling.
Coriander seeds check excessive menstrual flow. Six grams of the seeds should be boiled in half a litre of, water, till only half the water remains. Sugar should be added td it and taken when it is still warm. The patient gets relief after taking the medicine for 3 or 4 days.
A decoction prepared from, freshly dried coriander is an excellent eye-wash in conjuctivitis. It relieves burning and reduces pain and swelling.
A teaspoon of coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder, is an effective remedy for pimples, blackheads and dry skin. The mixture should be applied to the face, after ' washing it thoroughly, every night before retiring. Precautions: Dry coriander should be sparingly used by persons suffering from bronchial asthma and chronic bronchitis.
The young plants of coriander are used in chutneys, sauces, curries and soups. The volatile oil in it is used for flavouring and in medicine. In the dried form, coriander is an important ingredient of curry powder and is also used in pickling spices, sausages, seasoning, confectionery and for flavouring spirits, particularly gin.