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Cumin Seeds – Everything you need to know about

Cumin Seed

Cumin Seeds

Cumin is known for its sweet smell, bitter flavor, and warm fragrance. The seeds are plenty of oil content. Cumin is tiny dehydrated fruit of the flowering plant of the Apiaceae family. This family is also commonly known as the parsley family. The seeds of cumin are found within the fruit. The seeds are used in the dried form as well as powdered form. The annual herbs of the cumin form a uniform canopy.

Sometimes cumin and caraway are thought to be the same. People get confused between the two and find it difficult to distinguish. The distinct feature of cumin that makes it different from caraway is that it is hotter to taste, light in color, and is larger than the seeds of caraway.

History of Cumin Seeds

The seeds of cumin were originated in the Levant region of the Eastern Mediterranean. The seeds were extracted from Syria back in the second millennium BC. The Americans were introduced to cumin by the Spanish and the Portuguese colonists. In ancient times cumin was grown majorly in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, Chile, and China.

Cumin has been used as a spice for more than thousands of years.  In ancient Egyptian civilization, cumin seeds were not only used as a spice but also as a mummifying agent. Cumin was widely used in ancient Roman cuisines. Greeks in ancient times used to keep cumin in a separate container at the dining tables as pepper is kept today. Moroccans are still habitual of keeping cumin this way in a separate container. There are different types of cumin, black and green being the main. Both these types of cumin are used in Persian cuisine. The mention of cumin seeds can be found even in the Bibles and that too not only in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament too.

Different Names of Cumin Seeds

The scientific name of cumin is Cuminum cyminun. Cumin is known by different names in different parts of India. In Hindi and Oriya cumin is known as Jeera or Jira. Bengalis call it Safaid jeera or Zira. In Gujarati, it is called Jiru. It is known as Zyur in Kashmiri and Zero in Sindhi. Cumin is known as Jiraka in Sanskrit. Jeregire is known in Marathi. The cumin seed is known as Jeeriege in Kannada, Jeeragam in Tamil, and Jidakara or Jikaka in Telugu.

Cultivation and Production of Cumin Seeds

Cumin is a humid plant and grown in areas where atmospheric dampness is low during February – March. The nature of cumin crops is tropical, subtropical and drought tolerant. It grows in 100-120 days. The Mediterranean climate is the most suitable climate for the growth of cumin. In this climate, the productivity of the plant increases and its production reaches a maximum. In India, it is a Rabi crop and is harvested in April or May. In today’s date, the main producers of cumin are India and China. They are also the major world exporters of cumin. India produces about 70 % of the total world supply and 90% of it is consumed by India itself. Another country that contributes to the production of cumin is Mexico.

Preparation and Storage of Cumin Seeds

For the cumin seeds to be more aromatic while cooking it must be roasted before use as whole or powder. The powder must be preserved in an airtight container to prevent it from moisture. The powdered cumin can be mixed with other ground spices to enhance the flavor of the curry.

Cooking of Cumin Seeds

Cumin is used widely in cooking in dried as well as powdered form. Due to its strong flavor and warm aroma, it is used in cooking in major parts of the world. It gives an earthy, warming, and aromatic essence to food. In India cumin is a must ingredient for all types of recipes. It is also used in some conventional Brazilian dishes. It can be used in cooking vegetables, soups, stews, and also in a wide range of cuisines. Due to its characteristic flavor and strong aroma is also used in some cheese. This cheese is known as Leyden cheese. Tex-Mex or Mexican style Chili powder is made by cumin as a part of the ingredient. In India, a refreshment drink known as Zeera jal is made from cumin and tamarind water. Kummel is a famous German liquor that is flavored with cumin and caraway.

Medicinal Usage of Cumin Seeds

Dried cumin seeds are used for medicinal purposes also. Cumin helps indigestion. It stimulates appetite and helps in detoxification. Cumin seeds increase metabolism. It treats nausea and increases lactation in pregnant ladies. It also treats boils. It is very effective in carpal tunnel syndrome. It also prevents morning sickness. It has also been a natural way to increase breast size and even relieves swelling of breasts or testicles.

Other uses of Cumin

Cumin oil is used in cosmetic products. The major volatile component of cumin is used in the preparations of essential oils and perfumes. . It is used as a carminative in the West in veterinary medicine. But in the East, it is still used as a traditional herbal remedy. Cumin is also used as food for birds and therefore exported worldwide.

Nutritional Value of Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are tiny beads of nutrition. They have monounsaturated fat, protein, and dietary fibers. It is rich in vitamins B and E. Cumin has important minerals like iron, magnesium, and manganese. It also contains petroselinic acid.

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