Health from your Gardens – 2; Coriander Leaves and seeds.

Coriander, also known as Cilantro, Chinese Parsley or Dhania bears the botanical name of Coriandrum Sativum. It is called as “dhania” in Hindi, “Kothambri” in Kannada, “Kothamalli” in Tamil and “Dhaniyalu” in Telugu. It is an annual herb growing extensively in many parts of the world as a soft plant growing to a maximum height of 50 cms. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. It bears small bunch of white or pale pink flowers and fruits are globular, dry schizocarp, 3-5 mm in diameter.

There are 2 types morphologically – one erect and tall with a strong main shoot and the other shorter, weaker main shoot and longer bushy spreading branches.

Coriander plant

Coriander roots

Coriander seeds

Daily uses of Coriander:
All parts of the plant are edible, but commonly the fresh leaves and dry seeds are used in various cuisines of the world. Fresh leaves are used in various types of chutneys and salads. The leaves are also used as garnish in a large number of Indian dishes, generally used when the dish cools down and just before serving to retain the flavour. It is also extensively used in Thai, Chinese, Mexican & Russian cooking.

Coriander leaves on Pulav

Coriander leaves on Sambar

Coriander seeds are used as whole seeds and ground form. Seeds are roasted and ground to enhance the aroma of the fresh powder; it loses aroma on storage. Coriander is an important constituent on many masalas/curries like “garam masala”, “sambar powder”, “rasam powder” etc. Roasted seeds called “dania dal” are eaten as snack also. Coriander seeds are boiled with water and drunk as home medicine for cold. In many countries it is also used for pickling vegetables,making rye bread, sausages etc

Coriander roots have a strong flavour and are used in variety of Asian cuisines, like in Thai cuisine in soups and curry pastes.

Nutritional values:
Coriander Leaves per 100 gms

Energy – 23cals
Fibres – 2.8 gms
Carbohydrates – 3.67 Gms
Fat – 0.52 gm
Sugar – 0.87 gm
Proteins – 2.13 gms
Water – 92.21 gms

Vitamins K, A, C, E & B1, B2 etc in descending order of concentration.
Minerals Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium etc

The nutritional profile of coriander seed is different from the fresh stems and leaves, the vitamin content being less than that in the leaves, with some being absent entirely. However, the seeds do provide significant amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

Health effects and medicinal activities:

  • Coriander leaves and to a lesser extent seeds have a good antioxidants content.
  • Some chemicals in coriander leaves have some anti-bacterial properties too.
  • In animal experiments it is shown to have ability to control type II diabetes and also has hypo-lipidaemic effects.
  • But it can rarely produce allergic reaction in some.
  • Essential oil produced from coriandrum sativum has anti-microbial effects.

Coriander Vs Parsley
The two are different; the leaves resemble each other, but taste is different. But Parsley leaves can be used as a spice just like coriander leaves with very little difference in taste. Parsley is called “ajwain” or “Ajmood” in Hindi; Coriander as “dania”.Botanical name of Parsley is Petroselinum crispum; Kannada name is “Achu Mooda” and in Malayalam “Seema Nalli”.

Word of caution:
Like all leafy vegetables, coriander leaf bunches are sprayed with insecticides. Hence thorough special treating with appropriate solution and then washing with tap water** before use is strongly recommended.

Final advice:
It is so easy to grow if you have a little area of land or it can be grown in pots too. Grow without spraying any chemical pesticides and harvest fresh and use at home.

Best Wishes,
Dr M Mohan Rao,
M.D & Chief Surgeon (Now retired),
Dr U Mohan Rau Memorial Hospital, Chennai.
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