Cumin (Cuminum cyminum, pronounced /ˈkjuːmɨn/ or UK: /ˈkʌmɨn/, US: /ˈkuːmɨn/, and sometimes spelled cummin) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to East India. Its seeds, in ground form, are used in the cuisines of many different cultures.
The English "cumin" derives from the Old English "cymen" (or Old French "cumin"), from Latin "cuminum", which is the romanization of the Greek "κύμινον" (kuminon), cognate with Hebrew kammon, Arabic kammun. Forms of this word are attested in several ancient Semitic languages, including kamūnu in Akkadian. The ultimate source is the Sumerian word gamun. The earliest attested form of the word κύμινον (kuminon) is the Mycenaean Greek ku-mi-no, written in Linear B syllabic script.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (0.98–1.6 ft) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an herbaceous annual plant, with a slender branched stem 20–30 cm tall. The leaves are 5–10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds 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 has been in use since ancient times. Seeds excavated at the Syrian site Tell ed-Der have been dated to the second millennium BC. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.
Originally cultivated in Iran and Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). It was also known in ancient Greece and Rome. The 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 fell out of favour in Europe except in Spain and Malta during the Middle Ages. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists.
Since returned to favour in parts of Europe, today it is mostly grown in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, and Chile. The plant occurs as a rare casual in the British Isles, mainly in Southern England, but the frequency of its occurrence has declined greatly; according to the Botanical Society of the British Isles' most recent Atlas, there has been only one confirmed record since the year 2000.
Superstition during the Middle Ages cited that cumin kept chickens and lovers from wandering. It was also believed that a happy life awaited the bride and groom who carried cumin seed throughout the wedding ceremony.
Cultivation of cumin requires a long, hot summer of 3–4 months, with daytime temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F); it is drought-tolerant, and is mostly grown in Mediterranean climates. It is grown from seed, sown in spring, and needs fertile, well-drained soil.
Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.[unreliable source?] Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, northern Mexican cuisines, central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch 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 chili powder (often Texan or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It is traditionally used in Indian, Middle-Eastern, Spanish, Italian, Cuban and Tex-Mex cuisine (though infrequently in Mexico). Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It helps to add an earthy and warming feeling to cooking, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as curries and chilli.
In South Asia, cumin tea (dry seeds boiled in hot water) is used to distinguish false labour (due to gas) from real labour.
In Sri Lanka, toasting cumin seeds and then boiling them in water makes a tea used to soothe acute stomach problems.
It is commonly believed in parts of South Asia that cumin seeds help with digestion. No scientific evidence seems to suggest this is the case.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,567 kJ (375 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||10.5 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||64 μg (7%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.327 mg (22%)|
|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 (13%)|
|Vitamin E||3.33 mg (22%)|
|Vitamin K||5.4 μg (5%)|
|Calcium||931 mg (93%)|
|Iron||66.36 mg (531%)|
|Magnesium||366 mg (99%)|
|Phosphorus||499 mg (71%)|
|Potassium||1788 mg (38%)|
|Sodium||168 mg (7%)|
|Zinc||4.8 mg (48%)|
|Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.|
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Although cumin seeds contain a relatively large percentage amount of iron, extremely large quantities of cumin would need to be consumed for it to serve as a significant dietary source (see nutrition data).
Confusion with other spices
Cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger than caraway (Carum carvi), another umbelliferous spice with which it is sometimes confused. Many European languages do not distinguish clearly between the two. For example, in Czech caraway is called 'kmín' while cumin is called 'římský kmín' or "Roman caraway". The distinction is practically the same in Hungarian ("kömény" for caraway and "római kömény" [Roman caraway] for cumin). In Polish the difference is even less significant- caraway is 'kminek' and cumin is 'kmin rzymski', which is even more confusing as 'kminek' is a diminutive of 'kmin' (notice the -ek suffix, as in 'kot' - a cat and 'kotek' - a small cat). In Swedish, caraway is called "kummin" while cumin is "spiskummin", from the Swedish word "spisa", to eat, while in German "Kümmel" stands for caraway and "Kreuzkümmel" denotes cumin. In Finnish, caraway is called "kumina", while cumin is "roomankumina" (Roman caraway" or "juustokumina"(cheese caraway). In Icelandic, caraway is "kúmen" while cumin is called "kúmín". In Romanian, "chimen" is the word for caraway while "chimion" is cumin, the latter being less known.
Cumin's distinctive flavour and strong, warm aroma is due to its essential oil content. Its main constituent and important aroma compound is cuminaldehyde (4-isopropylbenzaldehyde). Important aroma compounds of toasted cumin are the substituted pyrazines, 2-ethoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butylpyrazine, and 2-methoxy-3-methylpyrazine.
|This section requires expansion.|
Notes and references
- ^ "Cuminum cyminum information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?12617. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- ^ cuminum, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus Digital Library
- ^ κύμινον, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- ^ cumin, Online Etymology Dictionary
- ^ "Kamūnu." premiumwanadoo.com.
- ^ Anton Deimel, Orientalia Old Series 13 (1924) 330.
- ^ Palaeolexicon, Word study tool of ancient languages
- ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p. 206
- ^ http://www.foodreference.com/html/fcumin.html
- ^ a b c Li, Rong; Zi-Tao Jiang (2004). "Chemical composition of the essential oil of Cuminum cyminum L. from China". Flavour and Fragrance Journal 19 (4): 311–313. doi:10.1002/ffj.1302.
- ^ a b Wang, Lu et al.; Wang, Z; Zhang, H; Li, X; Zhang, H (2009). "Ultrasonic nebulization extraction coupled with headspace single drop microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry for analysis of the essential oil in Cuminum cyminum L.". Analytica Chimica Acta 647 (1): 72–77. doi:10.1016/j.aca.2009.05.030. PMID 19576388.
- ^ a b Iacobellis, Nicola S. et al.; Lo Cantore, P; Capasso, F; Senatore, F (2005). "Antibacterial Activity of Cuminum cyminum L. and Carum carvi L. Essential Oils". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53 (1): 57 – 61. doi:10.1021/jf0487351. PMID 15631509.