Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum) is of the parsley family. This plant is native to North Africa and south-west Asia.
Cumin is a small plant which only reaches from 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in.). It has small white-pinkish flowers which cluster in umbels and bloom in June and July.
The plant is an annual and needs full sun and well-drained soil. The seeds are ready about only four months after planting.
The seeds are straight and have very tiny hairs.
Parts used: Seeds
Cumin is a common spice used in many Mexican and Indian recipes. It is also widely used in the Middle East.
You can buy ground cumin, but only get the smallest amount possible. Ground cumin will gradually loose its flavor.
You can also get cumin seeds. Roast the seeds slightly in a pan before grinding the seeds yourself. Many recipes also call for whole cumin seeds.
Cumin seeds keep their aroma and taste for about one year if stored in dark airtight containers.
It is an important spice in many curries, chutneys, soups and sauces. Cumin has a bitter flavor and is an important ingredient in many spicy dishes.
This spice is great to use with lamb. In the Middle East it is common to use cumin in lamb dishes.
Some cheeses as the Dutch Leydon are flavored with cumin.
You need to be careful not to overdo the use of cumin. Too much cumin will kill all the other flavors of your dish. A little less than a teaspoon of ground cumin is absolutely enough for a recipe serving four.
Cumin Health Benefits
Cumin is well known as a digestive remedy.
It is good for indigestion, diarrhea and colic.
This is a spice that you stomach will welcome!
This spice may stimulate the appetite.
The cumin seeds are said to increase breast-milk production. Fennel seeds are also used for the same purpose.
Some strongly believe that cumin will stimulate sexual appetite. This applies mostly to men.
The men with this conviction will insist on adding a little cumin to their daily diet.
Cumin oil is anti-bacterial
It is always advised that pregnant women consult their doctor about their diet and what spices are safe to consume during their pregnancy.
Cumin In History
Cumin seeds have been used since ancient times.
In Ancient Egypt cumin was used as a medicinal plant. It was used to treat distress of the digestive system, for coughs and as a painkiller.
Used as a painkiller it must have been the placebo effect at work. It is remarkable what works when you believe it will work!
In Ancient Greece cumin symbolized greed and did not have a favorable reputation. Only stingy and mean people ate it according to the Ancient Greeks.
People who loved the taste and aroma of cumin probably ate it in secret. Perhaps they had a Cumin Anonymous society, who knows?
During the Middle Ages cumin was extremely popular in Europe. The cumin benefits were well appreciated! As other spices were introduced to the market cumin sadly lost popularity.