Cumin is an aromatic spice native to eastern Mediteranean countries and Upper Egypt. This warm, flavoursome and slightly bitter spice derives from the seed of the Cumin plant and is traditionally added to curries, Mexican dishes and Moroccan lamb dishes.
White cumin seeds are the most commonly available variety; black cumin seeds are slightly smaller and sweeter in flavour.
Cumin is widely available, all year round.
Dry-frying cumin before grinding it brings out its flavour and softens its very spicy punch. Heat a frying pan, do not add oil, and add cumin seeds and toss until they expel a warm, rich aroma. Leave seeds to cool slightly, then grind and add to curry mixtures, soups and stews.
In a cool, dark area.
Can't find it
Try ground coriander.
Health Benefits of Cumin
The health benefits of cumin include the following:
- Digestion: Cumin is extremely good for digestion and related problems. The very smell (aroma) of it, which comes from an aromatic organic compound called Cuminaldehyde, the main component of its essential oil, activates our salivary glands in our mouth (the mouth watering flavor), facilitating the primary digestion of the food. Next is Thymol, a compound present in cumin, which does same to the glands which secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines, due to its Stimulating properties. Cumin is also Carminative i.e. relieves from you from gas troubles and thereby improves digestion and appetite. Due to its essential oils, magnesium and sodium content, it promotes digestion and also gives relief in stomach-ache when taken with hot water (like aqua ptycotis and mint).
- Piles: The main reason behind piles is constipation added with infections in the wound in the anal tract, which again is caused by constipation. Cumin, because of its dietary fiber content and carminative, stimulating, anti fungal and anti microbial properties due to the presence of essential oils comprising mainly of Cuminaldehyde and certain pyrazines, acts as a natural laxative in powdered form, helps healing up of infections or wounds in the digestive & excretory system and speeds up digestion too. What else a patient of piles would want?
- Insomnia: This is a very peculiar property of cumin. It is a stimulant as well as a relaxant at the same time. This property cannot be attributed to a single component alone, just as causes of insomnia cannot be attributed to a single cause. But studies show that a proper intake of vitamins (particularly B-complex) and a good digestion help induce a sound sleep. Cumin helps both of these. Some of the components of the essential oil are hypnotic in nature and have tranquilizing effects.
- Respiratory Disorders, Asthma, Bronchitis etc. Presence of caffeine (the stimulating agent), the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anti congestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as Asthma, Bronchitis etc.
- Common Cold: Common Cold is a viral infection which affects our body frequently when our immune system goes weak. Again, the essential oils present in cumin act as disinfectants and help fight viral infections which cause common cold. Cumin also does not let cough formation in the respiratory system as it is supposed to be hot and dries up the excess mucus. Cumin is rich in iron and has considerable amount of vitamin-C, which are essential for a good immunity and keeps infections away.
- Lactation: It is rich in iron and thus very good for lactating mothers as well as women who are undergoing menses or who are pregnant, since they are more in need of iron than others. Moreover, cumin is said to help ease and increase secretion of milk in lactating women due to presence of Thymol, which tends to increase secretions from glands, including milk which is a secretion from mammary glands. It is more beneficial if taken with honey. Cumin has remarkable amount of calcium (above 900 mg per 100 grams) which accounts to over 90% of our daily requirement of calcium. This calcium is an important constituent of milk and hence cumin is very good for lactating mothers.
- Anemia: As stated above, cumin is very rich in iron (above 66 mg. in each 100 grams) which is more than 5 times the daily requirement of iron for an adult. This iron is the main constituent of haemoglobin in the red blood corpuscles of blood. It is haemoglobin which transfers oxygen (as oxide of iron) to the body-cells and whose deficiency causes anemia. So, cumin can be a nutritious additive to daily diet for anemic people.
- Skin Disorders: Almost all of us know that vitamin-E is good for skin. It keeps the skin young and glowing. This vitamin is also present in abundance in cumin. The essential oils present in this have disinfectant and anti fungal properties. This prevents any microbial and fungal infection from affecting the skin.
- Boils: Boils are just outlets for removal of toxic substances and foreign matters such as microbes etc. from the body. So, they are rather symptoms which show that a lot of toxic substances have accumulated in the body. Here cumin can help you a great deal. Those who regularly use cumin in food have been seen keeping free from boils, rashes, pimples etc. Components such as Cuminaldehyde, Thymol, phosphorus etc. are good de-toxicants which help in the regular removal of toxins from body, through excretory system of course, and not through boils.
- Immunity: As discussed above, abundance of iron, presence of essential oils and vitamin-C & vitamin-A in cumin boosts up our immune system.
- Cancer: Cumin itself has detoxifying and chemo-preventive properties and accelerates secretion of detoxifying and anti-carcinogenic enzymes from the glands, as it does to other secretions. As well as, it has nice anti oxidants like vitamin-C and vitamin-A in it, in addition to those essential oils, which, besides having countless other benefits, have anti carcinogenic properties too. It is particularly good for cancer of colon.
- Other benefits: More gifts! Cumin is also beneficial in treating renal coli, weak memory or lack of concentration, insect bites and sting etc. So, check it out!
BBC Good Food
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