[size=75]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [/size]
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) (sometimes spelled cummin) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to East India.
It is a 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 laterall fusiform or ovoid achene 4-5 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds are similar to fennel seeds in appearance, but are smaller and darker in colour.
Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in North African, Middle Eastern, Western Chinese, Indian, Cuban and Mexican cuisine.
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.
Today, cumin is identified with Indian and Mexican cuisine and Cuban cuisine. It is used as an ingredient of curry powder. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses like Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is also wide-spread used by traditional culinary in Brazil. In herbal medicine, cumin is classified as stimulant, carminative, and antimicrobial.
Cumin can be used to season many dishes, as it draws out their natural sweetnesses. It is traditionally added to curries, enchiladas, tacos, and other Middle-eastern, Indian, Cuban and Mexican-style foods. It can also be added to salsa to give it extra flavour. Cumin has also been used on meat in addition to other common seasonings. The spice is a familiar taste in Tex-Mex dishes and is extensively used in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine.
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 a fertile, well-drained soil.
Cumin can be boiled in tea to make “cumin cider”, first made by native Mexicans and spread throughout South America.