An Introduction
Cumin, an aromatic spice known for its distinctive, slightly bitter yet warm flavor. This pale green seed is a small dried fruit of an annual herb in the parsley family. Renowned for its hotter taste, this ancient spice is not only popular in Indian cuisine but also in Mexican, North
African, Middle Eastern, and western Chinese cuisines. It matches well with beans, chicken, couscous, curry, eggplant, fish, lamb, lentils,
peas, pork, potatoes, rice, soups, stews, eggs, etc. Cumin, as a spice is especially associated with Morocco, where it is often smelt in the abundant street cookery of the medinas.

Cumin is native to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt. It now grows in most hot countries, especially India, North Africa, China and the American nations. It is also mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and in the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). It was favorite of the Romans, the Europeans and the Britishers.

Cumin…..Botanical Description
The cumin plant is an annual herb, with a slender branched stem which rarely exceeds 1 foot in height. The leaves are 5-10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, thread-like leaflets which are deep green colour. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. Cumin seeds developed from these small flowers that tend to bloom during the summer. The shape of the seeds is oblong with a thicker middle part and laterally compressed tips; each individual seed is about one fifth of an inch in length.

*Key Constituents
The strong aromatic odor and bitter taste of Cumin fruits are due to the presence of a volatile oil which makes up about two to four per cent of it. This oil is separated out from the cumin fruits by the process of distillation with water. It is limpid and pale yellow in colour, and is mainly a mixture of cymol or cymene and cuminic aldehyde, or cyminol, which is its chief constituent.

Cumin…. A Typical Spice
Cumin, one of the most popular spices of the world is also one of the most typical spices for India, especially in Southern India. Its fruits
are are used as a whole, and are fried (frequently together with onion) or toasted before usage. Legumes, especially lentils, are normally
flavoured by cumin fried in butter fat to add more kick to the dish. It is an important part of curry powder and of the Bengali spice mixture panch phoron. In preparing almost all meat dishes, especially Northern Indian tandoori dishes, cumin is an essential element. Cumin when toasted with coriander produces a distinctive smell and is widely used In South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines.

Culinary Uses
Cumin or jeera / jira or zeera, is renowned for its pungent, powerful, sharp and slightly bitter flavour. It is used mainly where highly spiced

foods are preferred. As a spice, it is a key ingredient in Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cookery. It can
be found in some Dutch cheeses like Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is widely used in preparing curry powders and many savoury spice mixtures and matches well with plain rice, and to beans and cakes. Cumin seeds are used to add more flaovour in stews, grills, peas, pork, potatoes, soups, etc. In the Middle East, it is a familiar spice for fish dishes, grills and stews and flavours couscous – semolina steamed over meat and vegetables, the national dish of Morocco. Zeera pani is a refreshing and appetising Indian drink made from cumin and tamarind water. Cumin together with caraway flavours Kummel, the famous German liquer.
Attributed Medicinal Properties
Cumin seeds also possess effective and very strong stimulant properties. They are widely used in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India for many remedies. It is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness, and may relieve flatulence and colic. In older times, the cumin was used as an herbal remedy for treating colic and dyspeptic headaches. It has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as diarrhea, indigestion, and morning sickness. It shows promising results when used as a natural way to increase breast size.