Cumin is one of the most famous and indigenous herbs to upper Egypt since long ago.
Its common name is cumin or cumino aigro, while its botanical name is cuminum cyminum. It is called kamon in Arabic and kamnini, in the ancient Egyptian language. It is also one of the spice herbs with volatile oils.
Cuminaldehyde is the principal flavour - giving volatile oil .Cumin has an earthy, pungent, aromatic flavour which is slightly bitter but not hot, the aroma is characteristic and is modified by frying or dry roasting.
Its oil is the chief constituent of this plant, the oil is a fatty oil with a resin, gum, mucilage , malatea and albuminous matter. The part used of the plant is the fruit which is usually called seed. Cumin Seed should be even sized and yellowish-brown with a strong, earthy aroma when ground. It should be carefully cleaned and sorted to remove extraneous matter. Cumin grows up to 2 feet with deep green leaves and small pink or white flowers.
Cumin was used by the Romans in place of Pepper. It was also ground to a paste and spread on bread. Cumin is said to keep lovers faithful and was often used in love potions. It has been used as a condiment in England since the 13th century and was a taxable import into London from 1419.
Cumin , as fennel , has kitchen and medicinal uses.
In the kichen it complements, chicken, lamb, cheese, vegetables, rice, lentils, curries, Mexican dishes, tomato sauce and bread. Cumin has an affinity with dried beans and pulses. It is also an excellent spice for vegetables and is often used in conjunction with Coriander Seed.
Cumin is an essential ingredient in curry powders and blends.
It is also used in Falafel - A popular street food in the Middle East and specially in Egypt , where fried balls of puréed fava beans, chickpeas, coriander and parsely leaves and spicy seasoning are served with tahina sauce and salad. Texas and Northern Mexico also use Cumin to flavour nachos and tacos. Saffron, Cumin and Coriander are some of the spices used for flavouring the North African dish called Couscous.
Its medicinal uses has similar
effects to fennel and caraway but its use has declined because of its bitter
disagreeable taste. Its uses are mainly as a stimulant, carminative(prevents
or relieves flatulence), antispapasmodic. It had a considerable reputation
in helping flatulence caused by uneasy digestion and as a remedy for colic
and dyspeptic headache( caused by disturbance in digestion).
Applied externally as a plaster, it eased stitches and pain in the side and has been combined with other herbs to form a stimulating liniment.
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