Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in colour. Cumin’s distinctive flavour and strong, warm aroma are due to its essential oil content. Its main constituent and important aroma compound is cuminaldehyde. Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. The seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form. It is a key component of curry powder. Both whole and ground cumin are available year-round. One teaspoon of cumin approximately contains 15.5% iron, 7% manganese, 3.9% calcium. When it comes to health benefits, the cumin seeds are great. Cumin seeds, whose scientific name is Cuminum cyminum, are an excellent source of iron. Iron is an integral component of haemoglobin. Research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. Cumin’s unique flavour complexity has made it an integral spice in the cuisines of Mexico, India and the Middle East.
Throughout history, cumin has played an important role as a food and medicine and has been a cultural symbol with varied attributes. It is a stimulant as well as a great herb for digestive disorders and even as an antiseptic. The seeds themselves are rich in iron and are thought to help stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas which can help absorb nutrients into the system. It has also been shown to boost the power of the liver’s ability to detoxify the human body. The health benefits of cumin for digestive disorders have been well known throughout history. It can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhoea, nausea, morning sickness, and atonic dyspepsia. Cumin makes a great tonic for the body even if you don’t have a specific ailment to cure. It is said to increase the heat in the body thus making metabolism more efficient. It is also thought to be a powerful kidney and liver herb and can help boost your immune system.
Most Indian traditional foods carry a distinctive taste of that versatile spice jeera, or cumin seeds. When you go to North Indian homes, you are served Jal Jeera, and the Southern-most state, Kerala, has its own version of Jeera Water (Jeerakavellam). Cumin is believed to stimulate the liver to produce more bile, which helps with digestion. Cumin is very effective in curing insect bites, healing boils, as well as preventing infection in minor wounds. Indian kitchen is a storehouse of spices and herbs, most of them having medicinal value. Cumin is also a main component of curry powder and a number of hot spice mixtures. Whole cumin seeds are often added to lentil and pulse dishes. To bring out the best flavour of the seeds, they are usually toasted in a dry frying pan or with a little butter before adding to other ingredients. Cumin is used in pickles and chutneys. Cumin goes well with vegetables. A magic ingredient it is……. our very own jeera, the cumin seed.