Often used as a substitute for almonds, Charoli seeds are full of health benefitting nutrients and an important element in Ayurvedic medicine. Charoli (Buchanania lanzan) or the Chironji tree is a native to India found growing abundantly in the North Western parts of the country. It is most popular for its seeds that are considered to be a delicacy. The oval and flat seeds that are enclosed in a hard seed coat are similar to the pine nut. Toasting or roasting the Chironji seeds brings out the best flavor in them. Chironji fruits are considered to be one of the most delicious fruits. The roots, fruits, leaves, seeds and gum of this tree are used for various medicinal purposes in India. Charoli seeds are a commonly used ingredient in the preparation of many Indian sweets as well as savory items.
Amongst various names, it is alos known as – Almondette, calumpong nut, cheronjee nut, Cherauli nut, Cuddapah almond, Hamilton mombin,piyal, char, sarop, Kolamavu, Kattuma, charu/chanhra (Oriya), kole maavu (kannada), muungaappeezh/ nuramaram (Malayalam), akhatth / muni / piyaal / prasavakh / rajanadanha / upavatth (Sanskrit), charam (Tamil) charumamidi / priyaluvu / raj-adanamu (Telugu), habb-us-simanaa, saaraapparuppu, mudaima, morala.
Nutritional profile of Charoli seeds
Charoli seeds are relatively low in calories and are a good source of protein and fat (59 grams per 100 grams of charoli seeds). They contain good amounts of dietary fiber. Charoli provides you with vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and niacin. Minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron are also found in high amounts in these seeds.
Chironji fruit contains hard nut which on decortications bears seed which contain more than 50% oil by weight. Chironji seed oil has various applications in cosmetic and therapeutic industry. It is used as digestive tonic, carminative, expectorant, aphrodisiac, and relaxant. Phytochemical analysis has revealed presence of flavonoids, tannin, galactoside and other chemicals.
Health benefits of Chironji seeds
Priyal or chronji is herb used in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha medicine forms. Chironji has been used since thousands of years in Unani and Ayurvedic system of medicine because of its amazing medicinal and curative properties. The regular intake of Chironji seeds helps in improving your health and in preventing many diseases. Some of the health benefits of charoli seeds are given below.
Skin and beauty benefits of chironji seeds
Chironji seeds are found to be extremely beneficial for the skin. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that are good for your skin health. These seeds have been used in many beauty products to enhance the beauty and health of the skin. Charoli seeds are used to make scrubs that cleanse your skin by exfoliating it and removing dirt and dead cells. It is also beneficial in getting rid of facial hair. These seeds are helpful in preventing pimples, acne and other skin infections.
Read more about benefits of chironji for skin and various chironji face packs in our article Little Known Nut – Chironji Benefits for Skin
Chironji oil – remedy for diarrhea
Chironji oil, obtained from the seeds of chironji and Chironji root is found to be effective in curing diarrhea and other kinds of digestive problems. It helps in binding the stools and making your bowel movements regular. This can be attributed to the astringent properties present in parts of plant.
Chironji for respiratory problems
Steam inhalation with a few drops of chironji oil added to the water can provide immediate relief from cold, as it helps in loosening the mucous. The expectorant properties of the chironji seeds also helps in relieving nasal congestion and chest congestion. Lab studies show that chronji seeds contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Lab results with extract from leaves and seeds have been effective in reducing inflammation in rats.
Chironji seeds for the reproductive system
Chironji oil is an effective remedy for treating problems relating to the reproductive system. The seeds have aphrodisiac properties and hence are used in treating sexual and reproductive problems such as premature ejaculation, impotence and loss of libido. In parts of India, it is a tradition that newly wed couples start their married life eating sweets and nutritious drink made from chrionji seeds. It is believed that it will enhance their vitality and sexual ability.
Charoli seeds provide cooling effect
Charoli seeds help in cooling your body and therefore can be used as a remedy for reducing burning sensations in the body. The oil obtained from charoli seeds can help in relieving blemishes, rashes pain, itching, prickly heat and other problems associated with the skin.
Chironji seed oil for swellings and infections
The oil extracted from chironji seed, when applied externally is found to help in reducing swelling of glands in the neck. This oil is also used as a remedy for treating skin infections and to get rid of scars and blemishes in the skin. Chironji seed oil is also found effective in case of rheumatic inflammation and joint pain.
Anti ulcer properties of chironji roots
Lab studies have revealed anti-ulcer properties chironji roots. Root extract was able to treat and prevent gastric ulcers in rats. Traditionally it has been used in treating mouth ulcers. It is believed to have cooling impact on body and prevents ulcers.
Chironji seeds improve immunity
Fruits and seeds of chironji have ability to stimulate immunity. Traditionally products of chironji are given to mother after child birth. Studies also suggest that it simulates immunity, however more studies will be required to validate the claims.
Chironji for diabetes
Latest research has been towards benefits of chironji in treating diabetes. Animal studies showed that extract of chironji seed helps reduced blood sugar and lipids in drug induced diabetic rats. This is attributed to antioxidant properties which protects from oxidative stress.
Wound healing properties of chiroji
Wound healing process involves inflammation, fibroblast proliferation and tissue remodeling. Infection from microbes delay healing process. Microbes form biofilms on wound surface which facilitate their growth and delay healing. Studies with extract from charoli seeds show that they offer anti-microbial and anti-biofilm properties and have potential to heal wound quickly. Animal studies confirm the same healing properties. A bio polymer has been isolated from seeds of charoli which ha potential applications in treating wounds. Other independent studies have confirmed anti-microbial properties of Buchanania lanzan seeds and leaves on bacteria like E.Coli, S.typhi and fungus like Candida.
Other benefits of Chironji
Medicinal use of chironji roots-The extract made from the roots of chironji is found to have expectorant properties. It is used for treating infections that occur in the blood and to cure disorders of the digestive system, often caused the dysfunction of the liver or gall bladder.
Medicinal use of chironji leaves – The juice obtained from the leaves of the charoli tree is used as a remedy for digestion problems. This juice also has strong purgative, aphrodisiac, and expectorant properties. The juice of Chironji leaves is used as a tonic to relieve tiredness and fatigue. It is also used as a cardiotonic to strengthen the heart so that it performs at its maximum best. The leaves are sometimes dried and powdered and used to treat wounds.
Medicinal use of chironji gum – The gum of chironji tree is used as a remedy to treat diarrhea and chest pain. It is often mixed with milk and used to provide relief from the pain associated with rheumatism.
Chirojni Bark – Charoli tree bark is found to offer antioxidant properties and has potential applications for treating various health disorders.
Other uses of Chironji
The seeds of chironji have a wonderful taste and are considered to be a delicacy in India. They are used extensively in baking and in the preparation of desserts and other confectionery products. Just like cashew nuts, powdered chironji seeds are often used for thickening gravies and sauces and to impart a rich and creamy taste to the dishes. In India a special traditional sweet dish called Chironji Ki Barfi is prepared from the chironji seeds. Since the seeds are known to provide vitality and vigor, this sweet dish is often given to newly married couples. Chironji seed oil has medicinal properties similar to that of almond oil and hence is used as its substitute in many pharmaceutical products. The bark of chironji tree produces tannin which is used in the leather and pharmaceutical industry and also in clarifying beer and wine. The wood finds use as firewood. The leaves of chironji are used as fodder for goats, sheep and cattle.
Culinary uses of Charoli seeds
The seeds of charoli are used in making both sweet and savory dishes. They are used as a topping for many sweets and desserts like halva (veggies or fruits cooked with sugar until soft and creamy) and shrikhand (a blend of thick yoghurt, saffron, cardamom sugar and milk that is cooked on a slow simmering heat until it reaches a creamy consistency). The seeds are powdered and used to impart a nutty flavor to kormas and kababs. Since they have an almondy taste, they are used as a substitute for almonds. Charoli seed oil is also used in place of olive oil and almond oil in cooking. Crushed chironji seeds can also be sprinkled on top of soups, salads and desserts.
Healthy and delicious recipes using Charoli seeds
Ingredients: Plain yogurt (600 ml), Crushed cardamom (1 tsp), Sugar (150 grams), Chopped charoli nuts (1 tsp), Chopped pistachios (1 tsp), Grated nutmeg (a pinch), Rose water (1 tsp), Saffron (a pinch), mango pulp (½ cup – depending on seasonal availability)
Strain the yogurt using a cheese cloth or muslin cloth. Leave it for about 2 hours until all the water has been removed. Move the solid yogurt to a bowl, add sugar and whisk until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated. At this point add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Sprinkle saffron threads and keep the shrikhand in the refrigerator for about half an hour. This dish tastes best when eaten chilled.
Lamb with chironji and pepper
Ingredients: Charoli seeds (2 tbsp), Lamb (1 kg), Cumin seeds (1 ½ tsp), Coriander powder (1 tsp), Ginger-garlic paste (1 tsp), Sliced onion (1), Black pepper powder (1 tsp), Red chillies (4), Tomato puree (2 tbsp), Salt to taste, Cilantro (a bunch), Turmeric (a pinch).
Blend together the charoli seeds, ½ tsp of cumin seeds, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste and red chilies into a fine and smooth paste. The next step is to heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the remaining cumin seeds, sliced onion and salt. Fry until the onion turns golden brown. Then add the turmeric and blended spice paste. Cook this mixture for some time, stirring all the while. Then add tomato puree and cook until the oil separates. At this stage add the lamb pieces and water to just cover everything in the pan. Cover the pan, reduce the flame, bring it to a simmer and allow the lamb to cook for about 1 hour or until the meat becomes tender. Once it is cooked, move the meat pieces to another bowl. Boil the remaining liquid until it reduces to a thick consistency and add chillies and garlic. Add the cooked lamb pieces in the sauce and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Charoli seeds are a highly beneficial food that can benefit your health in numerous ways. Although a native to India, Charoli has gained extensive popularity because of its broad range of health, medicinal and culinary uses.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Sreebot, Flickr - Dinesh Valke