Cumin is a native plant from east Mediterranean to India. It is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae which is commonly known as parsley, carrot or celery family. It is used both in grounded and the whole form in different traditional Indian cuisines. It also has many uses as a traditional medicinal plant. Cumin or jeera is a dried seed that is oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged and yellow-brown in colour. (source wiki)
Cumin seeds are used as a spice for its distinctive aroma and flavour. Commonly known as jeera is used as an essential flavouring in many cuisines across India. Especially the Indian tadka is incomplete without jeera. It adds that earthy and warming feeling to the food.
Native names - English: Cumin Seeds; Hindi : Jeera / Jeeru; Tamil: Seerakam / Jeerakam; Kannada : Jeerige; Malayalam : Jeerakam; Telugu : Jeelakara / Jidakara;
Types of Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
Jeera or Cumin is found in the form of Kala jeera which is commonly known as Black cumin (Bunium Persicum) or Shahi jeera. It is used mostly in Kashmiri and Mughlai cuisines. It is dark brown in colour, crescent shaped, and is bitter, earthy, sharp, with heavy odour before cooking, however, it develops a nutty flavour which enhances the taste of the food. Before using the Kala jeera just roast it a little to enhance its flavour.
Health Benefits of Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
- Digestion: Cumin is an extremely good digestive agent. The various chemicals like thymol and Cuminaldehyde present in the cumin, helps stimulate the glands that secrete acids, bile and enzymes responsible for complete digestion of the food in the stomach and the intestines. The medicinal properties present in cumin help relieve gas and improves appetite. The Sanskrit meaning of jeera is “that which helps in digestion”.
- Respiratory Disorders: Cumin is believed to have anticongestive properties that help in those suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It acts as a natural expectorant and helps eliminate the mucus and phlegm in the respiratory tracts. In addition it has special antiseptic properties which help in fighting common cold, cough and fever.
- Jeera is high in iron and potassium content hence maintains blood pressure and controls heart rate.
- It is high in antioxidants and hence builds immunity and promotes good health. It is also believed to prevent cancer as cumin has potent free radical scavenging abilities.
How To Select And Store Jeera/Cumin
It’s a good idea to buy jeera and cumin in small quantities like 200 grams a month (Example) for everyday use. Storing small quantities is easier and also helps in retaining the freshness of the the seed.
Buy the whole jeera/cumin rather than the powdered version. The cumin seeds retain flavor and freshness for month. Make the cumin into a powder as an when required using a pestle and mortar. Store the whole and powdered jeera in a glass container in cool, dark and dry place. You can also deep-freeze the cumin/jeera for longer shelf life.
Various Ways to Consume Jeera/Cumin
Jeera is an integral part of every household in India, every Indian spice box or masala dabba consists jeera which is essential ingredient in Indian Kitchen. Jeera is an integral part of spice powder mixes like garam masala, sambar masala or any ground masala, It is also used in the most favourite summer Indian Jal Jeera drinks or Jeera Chaas to Jeera Rice, Jeera Bread, Jeera Biscuits and our most favourite street food chaats cannot be savoured without the flavours and aromas of bhuna (roasted) jeera. We have lined up a few recipes so that you enjoy adding jeera to add flavour to your dishes.