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Mexican Coriander or Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) belongs to family Apiaceae and used as a spice as well as medicinal plant. It is a tropical perennial & annual herb and a native of Mexico and South America. It is also called long coriander, because it is used as a substitute of Coriander. Culantro is a tap-rooted biennial herb with long evenly branched roots. The oblanceolate leaves arranged spirally around the short thick stem from a basal rosette and are as much as 30 cm long and 4 cm broad. The leaf margin is serrated and each tooth of the margin contains a small yellow spine. The plant produces a well-branched cluster of flower heads in spikes forming the characteristic umbel inflorescence on a long stalk arising from the center of the leaf rosette. The calyx is green while the corolla is creamy white in color. The appearance of culantro and cilantro (i.e. coriander) are different but the leaf aromas are similar, although culantro is more pungent. Because of this aroma similarity the leaves are used interchangeably in many food preparations and are the major reason for the misnaming of one herb for the other.
In India it is found mainly in the north-eastern states of Sikkim (bhotay dhonia), Assam (man dhonia), Manipur (awa phadigom or sha maroi), Mizoram (asbahkhawr), Tripura (bilati dhonia), Nagaland (Burma dhania). It is also used in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and in few parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. As per the study carried out by Tshering Tashi Lepcha, Sujata Upadhyay, S Manivannan, Karma Diki Bhutia, Laxuman Sharma and Venkata Ramana Muddarsu (2018), the comparison of various nutrient contents present in culantro and coriander is as under:
|2||Crude protein (%)||2.63||3.3|
|3||Reducing sugar (%)||8.26||6.5|
|4||Ascorbic acid (mg/100 g)||32.33||135|
The local people of Sikkim use culantro as a condiment and use it as spice, chutney as well as for medicinal purposes. As a spice they use it as a seasoning of meats, vegetables, chutneys and soup. The common part of the plant consumed is leaves.
Ajay Kumar Jha, Senior Manager (Environment)
Teesta VI HE Project