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Category: Food



Introduction and description

Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, a member of the parsley family, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form, for their distinctive flavor and aroma. Cumin is globally popular and an essential flavoring in particularly South Asian, Northern African and Latin American cuisines. Cumin can be found in some 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 curry powders and pastes.

Today, the plant is mostly grown in China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Mexico, Chile and India.

And it has healing properties.



Cumin has been in use since ancient times. Seeds excavated at the Indian site have been dated to the second millennium BC. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites. Cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). The ancient 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 was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists.

There are several different types of cumin but the most famous ones are black and green cumin which are both used in Persian cuisine.

In Sanskrit, Cumin is known as Jiraka or Jeera. Jira means “that which helps digestion". In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, dried Cumin seeds are used for medicinal purposes.


Green chillies-2. Salt-to taste. Grated coconut-1/2cup. Cumin seeds-1/4tbsp.
Crushed mustard seeds-1/2tbsp. Yoghurt-250gms. Chopped shallots-2
from the website myfavouritefoods

Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. If toasted it has a particularly warm nutty taste. Although it commonly forms one of the ingredients in spice mixtures, it can be used alone.

If cumin seeds are lightly toasted in the oven, then ground and added to creamy unsweetened yoghurt with salt and grated apple [granny smith for example] it makes a delicious accompaniment to grilled meats.

To get its healing properties eat it.

Nigella Lawson’s Lentil, Tamarind and date dhansak

This is very very good, much tastier than its ingredients may suggest.  It benefits from a lot of chopped dill.  It goes well with plain steamed courgettes and plain yoghurt.

3 teaspoons garlic infused olive oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 x 3 cm piece of fresh root ginger (peeled and grated)

200 grams red lentils

3 tablespoons tamarind paste from a jar

750 ml freshly boiled water

75 grams soft dried pitted dates (each one scissored into 8 small pieces)

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs of fresh dill (chopped)

1 tablespoon pomegranate seed


Heat the oil in a heavy based pan that has a lid and fry the cumin seeds for a few seconds. Add the ginger and stir for another minute or so.

Add the lentils to the pan, stirring them into the cumin and ginger, then spoon in the tamarind paste and pour in the water.

Tip in the chopped dates and the bay leaves and bring to the boil.

Clamp on the lid, turn the heat down to very low and simmer the lentils for about 30 minutes, by which time they should have absorbed most of the liquid and will be soft. 

Serve with rice or couscous as desired and sprinkle the lentils with dill and pomegranate seeds.

You could also add fenugreek or spinach leave and pumpkin or squash for a heartier version



Aloo Jeera

4 large Potatoes - 1 inch pieces, boiled

Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon

Oil - 4 tablespoons

Salt - to taste

Red chilli powder – ½  teaspoon

Coriander seeds crushed - 1 tablespoon

Roasted Cumin seeds ground - 1 teaspoon

Dry mango powder (amchur) - 2 teaspoon

Fresh coriander leaves - 2 tablespoons


Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and sauté till it changes colour. Now add salt and stir.

After this add red chilli powder, crushed coriander seeds, roasted cumin powder and dry mango powder.

Now add potato cubes and stir carefully till the masala covers all the potato cubes well.

Finally, add coriander leaves and stir it. Serve hot.


 very simple and very good.

How it works

Nutritionally, cumin is high in the B vitamins and minerals , the following comes from Wikipedia

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Vitamin A equiv.

64 μg (8%)

Riboflavin (vit. B2)

0.327 mg (27%)

Niacin (vit. B3)

4.579 mg (31%)

Vitamin B6

0.435 mg (33%)

Folate (vit. B9)

10 μg (3%)

Vitamin B12

0 μg(0%)

Vitamin C

7.7 mg (9%)

Vitamin E

3.33 mg (22%)

Vitamin K

5.4 μg (5%)


931 mg (93%)


66.36 mg (510%)


366 mg (103%)


499 mg (71%)


1788 mg (38%)


168 mg (11%)


4.8 mg (51%)

 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.

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