Country of Origin:
Cumino, Cumino Aigro, Comino, Jeera, Jiraka, Comino Romano
Its stem of this flowering plant is slender and branched, rarely exceeding 1 foot
in height and somewhat angular. The leaves are divided into long, narrow segments
as you see with the plant that produces fennel seeds, but much smaller and they are
of a deep green color, generally turned back at the ends. The upper leaves are
nearly stalkless, but the lower ones have longer leaf-stalks.
The flowers are small, rose-colored or white, in stalked umbels (umbels are clusters
of flowers that all come to a flat even plane, such as you find with wild flowers
such as Yarrow and Queen Annís Lace). The umbels of the Cumin herb contain four to
six rays, each of which are only about 1/3 inch long, and they bloom in June and July.
These blooms will be the cumin seeds which are oblong in shape, thicker in the middle,
compressed laterally about 5 inch long and resemble Caraway seeds, though they are
lighter in color and bristly instead of smooth, and fairly straight, rather than
curved. The seeds have nine fine ridges. Their odor and taste are somewhat like
caraway, but less agreeable.
The plants, if grown at home, should be sown in small pots, filled with light soil
and plunged into a very moderate hot bed to sprout and grow. These seedlings should
be hardened gradually in an open frame and transplanted into a warm border of good
soil, preserving the balls of earth which adhere to the roots in the pots. Keep your
cumin herb bed clean of weeds and the plants will flower very well and will probably
perfect their seeds if the season should be warm and favorable.
Cumin is used mainly where highly spiced foods are preferred. It is heavily used
in Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cookery. Cumin
is an ingredient in most curry powders and many savory spice mixtures, and is used
in stews, grills - especially lamb - and chicken dishes. It gives bite to plain rice,
and is often added to beans and cakes. Small amounts can be usefully used in aubergine
(eggplant) and kidney bean dishes.
Compounds Contained in This Herb:
Volatile Oil (2 to 5%): chief components cuminaldehyde, gamma-terpenes, beta-pinenes,
Fatty oil (10 to 15%): chief fatty acids petroselic acid palmitic acid
Proteic substances (15 to 20%)
Generally, the seeds are either:
lightly roasted before being used whole or
ground to bring out their aroma and added in a small quantities to flavor foods.
Cumin may also be pounded with other spices and placed into mixtures such as curry
powder. Ground cumin must be kept airtight, to retain its pungency. This spice
should be used with restraint - it can overpower all the other flavors in a dish.
I personally love the interaction between Cumin and Corriander and use the two
as a combo in much of my spontaneous cooking. This combo works with both
cream sauces, buttery sauces and tomato sauces, it is wonderful to season rice,
meats, soups, bean dishes, potato dishes, and so much more. These are two of the
most important spices in my kitchen and if you have not tried them in combination,
you need to take the plunge, you have been missing out!
Currently, there appear to be no warnings or contraindications with the use of Cumin.
None well documented
Not recommended for use during pregnancy