Cumin is native to the Levant and Upper Egypt. It now grows in most hot countries, especially India, North Africa, China and the Americas. The spice is especially associated with Morocco, where it is often smelt in the abundant street cookery of the medinas. Cumin was known to the Egyptians five millennia ago; the seeds have been found in the Old Kingdon Pyramids. The Romans and the Greeks used it medicinally and cosmetically to induce a pallid complexion.
Cumin is sometimes spelled cummin; Cuminum cyminum) is a flowering plant. Its seeds, in both whole and ground form, are used in the cuisines of many different cultures.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (0.98–1.6 ft) tall and is harvested by hand. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform 4–5 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds are oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color, like caraway, parsley and dill.
Cumin has been in use since ancient times. Seeds excavated at the Syrian site Tell ed-Der have been dated to the second millennium BC. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.
Originally cultivated in Iran and Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). It was also known in ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin fell out of favour in Europe, except in Spain and Malta, during the Middle Ages. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists.
It has since returned to favour in parts of Europe. Today, it is mostly grown in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, and Chile.
Cultivation of cumin requires a long, hot summer of 3–4 months, with daytime temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F); it is drought-tolerant, and is mostly grown in Mediterranean climates. It is grown from seed, sown in spring, and needs fertile, well-drained soil.
Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper. Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in Nepalese, Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, northern Mexican cuisines, central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Texan or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It helps to add an earthy and warming feeling to cooking, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as curries and chilis.
Health benefits and home remedes.
Although cumin seeds contain a relatively large percentage of iron, extremely large quantities of cumin would need to be consumed for it to serve as a significant dietary source (see nutrition data).
This traditional herbal remedy has many uses. It is a stimulant as well as a great herb for digestive disorders and even as a antiseptic of sorts. 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.
Recent studies have revealed that cumin seeds might also have anti-carcinogenic properties
. In laboratory tests, this powerful little seed was shown to reduce the risk of stomach and liver tumors in animals.
The health benefits of cumin for digestive disorders has been well known throughout history. It can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, morning sickness, and atonic dyspepsia. In this case, the seeds are boiled in water to make a tea of sorts - 1 teaspoon seeds to 1 glass water. Mix with salt and a teaspoon of coriander leaf juice.
Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to it’s antiseptic properties. Again, you’ll want to boil the seeds in a tea and then drink a couple of times a day. If you also have a sore throat then try adding some dry ginger to help soothe it.
Cumin can also be applied topically and is said to be a good salve for boils. Make a black cumin paste by grinding seeds with water and apply to the affected area.
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. Though the appropriate studies have yet to be conducted, some believe black cumin seeds may even be able to help treat asthma and arthritis.
So the next time you are offered a bowl of chili - go ahead and enjoy it. You will get a great tasting meal along with the many health benefits of cumin. If you ever wonder how to make a delicious roasted chicken, or roasted carrots...check on the recipes page for vegetarian chili recipe and more withNAFI'SCumin to warm up your fall days...