Till - Sesamum Indicum Pedaliaceae
Cumin is the dried, white fruit with greyish brown colour of a small slender annual herb. The surface of the fruit has 5 primary ridges, alternatively has 4 less distinct secondary ridges bearing numerous short hairs. The plant is 15 to 50 cm high. The aromatic seed like fruit is elongated, ovoid, 3 to 6 mm long, slightly bitter and has a warm flavour. The flowers are white or rose coloured in small umbels.
Cumin Seeds are one of the world’s most popular spices. Cumin seeds come in two varieties: Cumin with a brownish colour tone (Cuminum cyminum) from the family of Apiaceae and black cumin (Nigella sativa) from Ranunculaceae family.
Cumin (brownish) is being produced in tropical regions. Being an earliest known minor seed spice used by mankind, the typical pleasant aroma of this seed is due to their volatile oil content, the principal constituent of which is Cuminaldehyde.
Black Cumin is native to Southern Europe, West Asia, India and North Africa. The small triangular seeds are velvety black in colour. Its initial place of origin is most probably West Asia.
A whole black cumin seed can be characterized by a very dark colour and a thin, crescent shape with a pungent bitter taste and smell. The principal component in the volatile oil of black cumin is p-cymene.
Its seeds – each one contained within a fruit, which is dried – are used in the cuisines of many cultures in both whole and ground form. Although cumin is thought to have uses in traditional medicine, there is no high-quality evidence that it is safe or effective as a therapeutic agent.
Cumin seed is used as a spice for its distinctive flavour and aroma. Cumin can be found in some cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Tex-Mex or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, bahaarat, and is used to flavor numerous commercial food products.In South Asian cooking, it is often combined with coriander seeds in a powdered mixture called dhana jeera.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It imparts an earthy, warming and aromatic character to food, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as spiced gravies such as curry and chili. It is also used as an ingredient in some pickles and pastries.
Cumin seed have an aromatic odour and bitter taste. It is used as a condiment, and is an ingredient in curry powders, seasonings of breads, cakes and cheese. It is employed in native dishes of Central and South America. In medicine, it is used as a stimulant, carminative, stomachic and astringent. Cumin seed oil is used in perfumery and for flavouring liqueurs and cordials.