Cumin sometimes spelled cummin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm tall and is harvested by hand. It is an annual herbaceous plant, with a slender, glabrous, branched stem which is 20–30 cm tall and has a diameter of 3 to 5 cm. Each branch has 2 to 3 sub-branches. All the branches attain the same height, therefore the plant has an uniform canopy.
The stem is coloured grey or dark green. The leaves are 5–10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, with thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. Each umbel has 5 to 7 umbellts. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm long, containing two mericarps with a single seed. Cumin seeds have eight ridges with oil canals. They resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color, like other members of the umbelliferae family such as caraway, parsley and dill.
Cumin seeds not only add taste to food but also are very beneficial for body. Also known as jeera, these cumin seeds have been extensively used in culinary preparations in the Indian subcontinent since ages.
It is a rich source of iron and hence very beneficial for anaemics as well as lactating mothers and pregnant women, who tend to need iron more than others.
It is a great aid in digestion and prevents indigestion, flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea and morning sickness.
For immediate relief from acidity, chew a pinch-full of raw cumin seeds.
Cumin seeds have antiseptic properties and aid in curing common colds.
It doesn't let cough to form and collect in the respiratory system. Since it is supposed to be hot, it dries up all the mucous.
It would be beneficial to sip on a concoction of cumin seeds and water. Boil a handful of cumin seeds along with water. Drinking this water wards off common colds and keeps the digestive system on track. Many South-Indian households drink only 'jeera-pani' instead of sipping on plain boiled water.
Cumin seeds help in stimulating the secretion of enzymes in the pancreas which in turn help in the absorption of nutrients.
Cumin seeds also boost the power of the liver to flush out toxins from the body.