(Coriandrum sativum) is an umbelliferous annual plant of the parsley
family, native to the eastern Mediterranean region and southern Europe
and is found in many other parts of the world. It is valued for the
dry ripe fruits, called coriander seeds and also the fresh green leaves
called cilantro. The herb is produced in Morocco, Romania, Mexico,
Argentina, the People's Republic of China, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada,
Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Poland, Syria, the United States,
the USSR, and Yugoslavia. It is one of the oldest recorded spice,
mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts and in Exodus. Seeds have been
found in the tombs of the Pharaohs. The name originated from koris,
the Greek word for a bed bug, so given because of the similarity between
the smell of coriander leaves and the offending bug.
is a rigid, strong-smelling annual with pronounced taproot, and slender
branching stems up to 60 cm. Reaching a height of 1 meter, the adromonoecious
plant flowers in July and August. The plant has ferny, pinnately or
ternately decompound leaves and produces compound umbels with small
white or pinkish flowers that are attractive to bees. The seed capsules
are round red-brown which are aromatic when ripe.
seeds shatter soon after maturity (about 90 days from planting), timeliness
of harvest and weather conditions greatly influence yield. The plants
should be cut for seed when the fruits have turned brown. Young, immature
fruit have a characteristic disagreeable odor and lack the desirable
spicy aroma associated with mature fruit. Harvesting in the early
morning, while the dew is on the plant, reduces seed loss caused by
shattering. The seed is dried and stored for later use.
pleasing flavour of the coriander fruit is not thoroughly developed
until it is completely dry. The whole plant may be tied in bundles
or spread on screens to dry. As soon as dry, the fruits should be
separated by threshing and winnowing. The clean seed should be stored
in bags or closed containers.
For essential oil extraction, the seed is ground immediately before
distillation to increase oil yield and minimize distillation time.
The essential oil content of dried fruit ranges from 0.1 to 1.5% and
the oil contains d-linalool (also known as coriandrol), camphor, pinenes,
camphene, sabinene, myrcene, terpinenes, limonene, and other constituents.
Coriander fruit also contain a fixed or fatty oil. Coriander leaf
or cilantro contains about 4% volatiles, on a wet leaf basis, primarily
2-decenal and 2-dodecenal.
seeds, available whole or ground or as extracts, are used primarily
as a flavouring agent in the food industry or as spice in the home
kitchen for breads, cheeses, curry, fish, meats, sauces, soups, pastries,
and confections. It is often used in Mexican cooking and is a component
of chilli powders. Coriander is essential in Indian cooking and is
a major ingredient in curry powders and other Indian spice mixes such
as garam masalas. Whole coriander is used in pickling spices, for
meats and pickles. The seeds are also used to flavor alcoholic beverages,
such as gin, and in liqueurs. They are used as a flavouring for bread,
and yield an essential oil for soaps and perfumes. The fruit has been
used to flavor cigarette tobacco. Fresh leaves and shoots are especially
popular where the plant is produced locally for use as a flavoring
agent in salads, soups and stews. The root supplies a stronger flavouring,
and is often cooked as a vegetable in South East Asia.
a medicinal plant, coriander has been used as an antispasmodic, carminative,
stimulant, and stomachic. Coriander has also exhibited hypoglycemic
activity. At one time, coriander was used in love potions and considered
to be an aphrodisiac. Chinese herbal medicine includes the use of
coriander for measles, stomachache, nausea, hernia, and as a tonic.
Coriander seed oil has antibacterial properties and is used for treating
colic, neuralgia and rheumatism. The oil also counteracts unpleasant
odours in pharmaceutical preparations and tobacco. It is used in perfumes,
liqueurs and gin. The linalool in coriander oil is known to cause
contact dermatitis. Seeds are sometimes used as a flavoring agent
to improve taste in other medicinal preparations. The seeds are ground
into a paste for application to skin and mouth ulcers.