Authors: Kana Ram Kumawat, Ravi Kumawat and Madhu Choudhary
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, S.K.N. Agriculture University
Jobner-303329, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
International Organization for Standardization, Geneva, Switzerland listed 109 spices out of which India produces as many as 63 owing to its varied agro climatic regions out of which 20 are classified as seed spices. The country produces a wide variety of seed spices like fennel, fenugreek, coriander, cumin, dill, nigella, ajwain, anise, celery, caraway, poppy seeds, rai (Brassica nigra), mustard (white and yellow), sesame, parsley and Bunium persicum, out of which coriander and fenugreek are very important.
These are extensively used as flavouring agents in various food products and in pharmaceutical industry, especially in the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines. Seed spices are also used very frequently in homemade medicines for different ailments. The new group of value added products such as the volatile oils and oleoresins obtained from spices are also in large demand in the international market. The volatile oil is also used in flavouring liquors and obscuring unpleasant smell of medicines.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.)
Coriander is an annual herb, mainly cultivated for its fruits/seeds as well as for the tender green leaves. It is native of the Mediterranean region and is now commercially grown in India, Morocco, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S.A. In India, it is grown in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Major portion is though consumed locally; a small quantity is being exported now. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking. Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran. Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine.
Medicinal values and uses:
- Seeds possess immense medicinal value and are carminative, diuretic, tonic, stomachic, refrigerant and aphrodisiac.
- Useful to conceal the odour of other medicines.
- An infusion of seeds in combination with cardamom and caraway seeds is useful against flatulence, indigestion, vomiting and intestinal disorders.
- Coriander oil employed in medicine as a carminative or as flavouring agent to cover the taste or correct the gripping qualities of other medicines.
- Seeds are rich source of vitamin A and C and good appetizer.
- Chewed to correct foul breath and intoxicating effect of spirituous liquors.
- Paste made from seed is useful in pain in cephalagia.
- The infusion or powder of fried seeds is very useful in colics of children.
- Roasted seeds are useful in dyspepsia.
- The decoction with milk and sugar is beneficial during bleeding piles.
- Drink prepare, as dry seeds of coriander ground with water, add little water to it and keep for one hour, then add sugar crystals and honey, should be taken in short intervals in polydipsia and burning condition.
- Equal parts of powder of coriander, cumin and krishna jeera, boiled with jaggery should be taken to cure gout.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.)
Fenugreek (methi) is cultivated as a leafy vegetable, condiment and as medicinal plant. The fresh tender leaves and stem are consumed as curried vegetable and the seeds are mainly used as spice for flavoring almost all dishes. It has a high medicinal value as it prevents constipation, removes indigestion, stimulates spleen and liver and is appetizing and diuretic. It India, it is grown in about 0.30 lakhs ha producing annually about 30000 tonnes of seeds. Out of this 1000 to 3000 tonnes are exported to Saudi Arabia, Japan, Sri lanka, Korea and U.K., thus earning a foreign exchange worth of Rs. 170 lakhs annually. The major states growing fenugreek in India is Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab. Fenugreek has three culinary uses: as an herb (dried or fresh leaves), as a spice (seeds), and as a vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens). Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply.
Medicinal values and uses:
- Seeds are used in colic, flatulence, dyspepsia with loss of appetite, chronic cough, dropsy, enlargement of liver and spleen, rickets, gout and diabetes.
- Rich source of vitamin A, C and niacin
- Reduces fevers and improve digestion.
- Seeds are used by women in post natal period to induce lactation.
- Used in veterinary medicinal preparations.
- Seeds contain steroidal substance ‘Diosgenin’ useful in the synthesis of sex hormones and oral contraceptives.
- Reduces total cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Methi seeds are fried in ghee, mixed with seeds of anise and salt and made into a paste, which is given to check diarrhea.
- Seeds are roasted, powdered and give in infusion or a weak decoction, which is very useful in dysentery.
- Paste prepared from methi seeds when rubbed frequently on the face increases the luster of the skin.
- Application of paste of methi seeds is useful in mitigating burning sensation of the soles and the palms.
- Methi seeds are used to induce childbirth and for nursing mothers to increase the flow of the milk.
- The seeds of methi are also useful in anemia, being rich in iron (16.5 mg/ 100 gm).
- Eating salad of methi leaves increases the power of memory.
- Paste of fresh leaves applied over the scalp regularly before bathing lengthens the hair, preserves the natural colour and keeps the hair silky soft.
For control of pimples, blackheads, dryness of face, grind methi leaves finely with a little quantity of water. Apply this paste on face as an ointment before going to bed in the night, wash the face next day morning in warm water. It improves complexions and makes one look ten years younger.
1. National Research Centre for Seed Spices
2. Spices Board of India
About Author / Additional Info:
Post-Graduated in subject of Plant Breeding and Genetics from SKNAU, Jobner