Botanical name: Coriandrum sativum
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Coriander is an annual herb that can grow up to 50 cm tall. It has thin stems with many branches and leaves that are variable in shape, ranging from deeply lobed to almost feathery. The leaves are usually bright green and have a soft texture. The flowers are small and pinkish-white in color, and grow in umbels. The fruit is a globular dry schizocarp (splitting into mericarps when mature) that is about 3-5 mm in diameter and yellow-brown in color. Each fruit contains two seeds.
Coriander is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and northern Africa to southwestern Asia. It is now widely cultivated and naturalized in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Coriander seeds are the dried fruit of the coriander plant. They are a popular spice used in cuisines around the world and are known for their distinct flavor and aroma. Coriander seeds are also a good source of nutrients and have several health benefits.
One of the primary nutrients found in coriander seeds is dietary fiber. In fact, 100 grams of coriander seeds provide 41.9 grams of fiber. This fiber helps promote digestive health by absorbing water and adding bulk to the stool, which can help ease constipation. Additionally, the fiber in coriander seeds binds to bile salts and helps lower cholesterol levels.
Coriander seeds are also rich in minerals such as iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. These minerals are essential for a wide range of bodily functions, including red blood cell production, cell metabolism, and enzyme regulation. In particular, copper is necessary for the production of red blood cells, while the iron is essential for cell metabolism and red blood cell formation.
Another important nutrient found in coriander seeds is vitamin C. Unlike many other dry spice seeds, coriander seeds contain a significant amount of vitamin C, with 100 grams of seeds providing 35% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Finally, coriander seeds contain a variety of plant-derived chemical compounds, including fatty acids and essential oils. These compounds are responsible for the distinct flavor and aroma of coriander seeds and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Some studies suggest that coriander seeds may help protect against certain types of cancer, although more research is needed in this area.
Coriander has a long history of cultivation and uses that dates back thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions and was well known to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
Archaeological evidence from the Nahal Hemel Cave in Israel suggests that coriander was used in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, which dates back to around 8000 BCE. The plant is also mentioned in the Bible, where it is referred to in Exodus 16:31 as the “round seed” that was used to make manna.
In ancient Greece, coriander was cultivated for both its seeds and leaves. It was used as a spice and flavoring agent in food and was also used to make perfumes. Coriander was also used in ancient Rome, where it was known as coriandrum. It was used as a spice, medicine, and perfume, and was also used to preserve meat.
During the Middle Ages, coriander was widely used in Europe for its medicinal properties. It was believed to have the power to ward off diseases and was used to treat a wide range of ailments, from digestive issues to respiratory problems.
Coriander was brought to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonizers, and it quickly became a staple in Latin American cuisine. Today, coriander is widely used in cooking around the world, particularly in South Asian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Tex-Mex, Latin American, Portuguese, Chinese, African, and Scandinavian cuisine.
Some of the health benefits of coriander include:
- Rich in antioxidants: Coriander contains antioxidants such as vitamin C, which help to protect the body from free radicals that can cause damage to cells and lead to chronic diseases.
- Supports digestion: Coriander has been used traditionally to aid digestion, and studies have shown that it can help to reduce symptoms of bloating and gas.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Coriander has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate symptoms of conditions such as arthritis.
- Lowers blood sugar: Coriander has been shown to have blood sugar-lowering effects, which may be beneficial for people with diabetes.
- Lowers cholesterol: Coriander may help to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood.
- Anti-bacterial properties: Coriander has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties, which may help to protect against foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella.
- Supports urinary tract health: Coriander may help to prevent urinary tract infections by inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the urinary tract.
- May have anti-cancer effects: Some studies suggest that coriander may have anti-cancer effects, although more research is needed to confirm this.
- Intact seeds: The seeds should be whole and not cracked or broken.
- Aromatic smell: Coriander seeds should have a fresh, aromatic smell. Avoid seeds with a musty or rancid smell.
- Color: The seeds should be a light brown or yellowish-brown color. Avoid seeds that are too dark or have a grayish tint.
- No debris: Check for any debris, such as twigs or leaves, mixed in with the seeds.
- First, make sure the seeds are completely dry. If they’re not, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in the sun or in a low-temperature oven (around 150°F) until they are dry to the touch.
- Once the seeds are dry, place them in an airtight container. A glass jar with a tight-fitting lid or a plastic container with a snap-on lid works well.
- Store the container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The ideal storage temperature is below 68°F, as warm temperatures can cause the seeds to lose flavor and aroma.
- If you want to keep the seeds fresh for longer, you can also store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Just make sure they are in an airtight container and label them with the date so you know when they were stored.
1 cup chana dal, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and coriander seeds and cook for a minute until fragrant.
- Add chopped onions, garlic, ginger, and green chilli. Sauté until the onions are soft and golden brown.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute until they are soft.
- Drain the soaked chana dal and add it to the pressure cooker. Stir well to combine.
- Add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and salt. Mix well and cook for a minute.
- Add 2 cups of water to the pressure cooker and close the lid. Cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is cooked through.
- Let the pressure release naturally. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or Indian bread.
1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 green chili, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Water as needed
- Blend together coriander leaves, green chili, garlic, coriander seeds, salt, and lemon juice in a blender.
- Add water as needed to make a smooth paste.
- Serve as a side dish with any Indian meal or use as a dip for snacks.