Cumin is native to Egypt and has been cultivated in the Middle East, India, and China and Mediterranean countries for millennia. Cumin has played an important role as a food and medicine and has been a cultural symbol with varied attributes. Today and history also has experienced the flavor of cumin during the Roman Empire and in the ancient India where cumin has its mention as the sugandhan “well-smelling”.
Cumin still maintained an important role in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Today, cumin is experiencing improved recognition owing to newfound appreciation of its culinary and therapeutic properties.
Cumin – Qualified Therapeutic Properties
Cumin has since been used as a wash for eyestrain and irritations. Chinese and Hindus used it as a snake bite remedy. Cumin is stomachic, diuretic, carminative, stimulant, astringent, emmenagogic and antispasmodic. It is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness and may relieve flatulence and colic. In the West, it is now used mainly in veterinary medicine, as a carminative, but it remains a traditional herbal remedy in the East. Cumin is supposed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy and has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as diarrhea, indigestion and morning sickness.
Cumin Seeds has also been used in ancient medicine of Ayurveda as an ingredient for many digestive formularies. Cumin seeds are used as a flavoring agent in many herbal medicines and to help disperse flatulence. The seeds, and roots, also help to open obstructions of the liver, spleen and gall bladder and to ease painful swellings, in addition to helping with yellow jaundice, the gout and occasional cramps.
Cumin as a Nutritional
Cumin seeds are a very good source of iron and a good source of manganese. Other nutritional are Protein, Carbohydrate, Dietary fiber, Vitamin A, B, C, E and K, Calcium, Phosphorus and Potassium.
Other Names of Cumin
- Anise Acre, Cumin Acre, Cummin, Sweet Cumin
- French: cumin
- German: Kreuzkümmel, Romische Kümmel
- Italian: cumino
- Spanish: comino
- Arabic: kammun, kemouyn
- Indian: jeera, jeraka, jira, zeera, zira, sufaid…, safed…(white), kala…(black), kalonji(cf Nigella)
- Indonesian: (d)jinten
- Malay: jintan puteh
- Sinhalese: cheeregum, jeera, su(du)duru
- Tamil: cheeregum
Cumin has an aromatic spice with a distinctive bitter flavor and strong, warm aroma due to its abundant oil content. Cumin “seeds” are actually the small dried fruit of an annual plant in the parsley family. Native to the Mediterranean, cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger than caraway. Sold whole or ground, the seeds come in three colors: amber, white or black. Amber is most widely available, but the black has such a complex flavor it should not be substituted for the other two.
Cumin seeds are meticulously gathered from the farms of tribes. The analysis of cumin seeds shows them to consist of moisture 6.2 %, protein 17.7%, fat 23.8 %, fiber 9.1%, carbohydrates 35.5% and mineral matter 7.7% per 100 gms.
Biological Details of Cumin
Cumin, a small, annual herbaceous plant of Apiacae family, grows to a height of about 25 cm. The flowers are small with white or pink color in compound umbels form. The seeds come as paired or separate carpel, about 3-6mm long. They have a striped pattern having nine ridges and oil canals.
The cumin seeds are small, hairy, boat shaped, tapering at each extremity, with tiny stalks attached. Cumin seeds are brown yellow in color. The plants bloom in June and July. The seeds are normally ready four months after planting. The plants are cut when the seeds turn to brown and then thresh and dry to collect the cumin seeds.