Cumin is a very popular food item used all over the world. It is the seed of a plant that belongs to the parsley family, Cuminum cyminum, and grows up to a foot in height in hot climate. The leaves are dark green in colour with thin stems and the flowers are red or white in colour.
Cumin Seeds and powder
The cumin seeds, brown, black and white in colour, are used whole or in powder form in Indian cuisine. When roasted and ground, its aroma and the taste is enhanced. The powder should be stored in airtight containers away from sunlight, to retain its sweet nutty aroma.
Dry roasting the seeds helps to release the oils which in turn make the aroma stronger.
Uses of Cumin
Indian dishes are not complete without cumin. It lends a special taste and flavor to the food items. It is used in all kinds of dishes from curries to soups and stews, or curd and chutney.
Cumin seeds are used in different ways in Indian cooking. It is fried in a pan with oil before the vegetables or meat is added to cook. For tempering any dish like dal, soup or any curry the seeds are first fried in oil and then poured on to the dish.
When powdered cumin is sprinkled on top of any dish, it adds a beautiful flavor to it. It is one of the important ingredients of the popular curry powder.
Cumin is also used in baking certain breads and to add flavor in some cheeses. It has a somewhat bitter taste so it should be used in small quantity.
Health Benefits of Cumin
- The mucilage in cumin seeds protects the intestinal track. It improves the defense mechanism of the body, improves the skin, hair and nails.
- Black cumin seeds have curative properties and are used to treat many ailments like allergies, cold etc. Oil of black cumin helps to cure acne.
- Cumin seeds are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial and these reduce indigestion and gas.
- Cumin is good for the digestive system as it arouses the emission of the pancreatic enzymes which are needed for good digestion and absorption of the nutrients.
- The extract of black cumin reduces blood pressure, prevents gas and bloating of the stomach.
- A mixture of roasted ground cumin and rock salt is good to massage gums for bleeding and to strengthen them.
- People with cancer of the pancreas have benefited from the extract of cumin as it blocks the growth of the cells.
- Cumin tea helps to reduce cold and sore throat symptoms. It is also used to heal urinary tract problems, and to clean the bladder and the kidneys.
- Cumin tea helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, and also helps to absorb iron in the body and purifies blood.
- Roasted cumin seeds when chewed, help to cure mouth sores and keep the breath fresh.
- It helps to normalize bowel movement and stops diarrhea.
- Black cumin seeds have antioxidants and it helps to lower blood sugar of people with diabetes.
Indian cooking is not complete without the use of cumin as a whole seed or in the powder form sprinkled on top to garnish the dish. It is used for its taste, aroma and for its medicinal benefits.