Cumin

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 28. May. 2020

Cumin adds a unique, robust flavor to savory dishes and provides an assortment of health benefits as well.

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Cumin...

  • ...improves digestion. Cumin comprises 6 percent essential oils, which gives the spice its intense flavor and adds health benefits, including aiding in digestion by stimulating the formation of digestive juices.
  • ...might help you lose weight. Iranian scientists found that adding cumin to their diets helped overweight people lose weight.
  • ...can help fight fungal disease. In studies cumin has been shown to have an antifungal effect, and can help in rehabilitating the intestinal flora.
  • ...can help detoxify. Certain detoxification enzymes are present in cumin which can promote and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.
  • ...might help prevent certain types of cancer. U.S. researchers found that cumin can prevent the development of certain cancers. Test subjects who ate cumin every day were less likely to have stomach and cervical cancer when tested over a long period.
  • ...can help relieve coughs. Research has shown that cumin is often as effective at relieving coughs as codeine.
  • ...might help improve memory. In ancient India, patients suffering from memory loss are told to chew a few seeds of cumin every day. Modern studies show that the method might be effective, with test subjects showing improved memory performance after integrating cumin into their diet.

What You Should Know About Cumin

Cumin grows only in warm countries. Botanically, the cumin plant is related to the caraway seed, though the flavor is distinctly different. Caraway is also generally utilized in its whole form, while cumin is most often ground. 

Origins

Cumin originates from the African, Arabic and Mediterranean regions, and has been utilized for thousands of years. Archaeologists discovered cumin seeds in ancient Egyptian mummy graves, and the ancient Romans used cumin both for cooking and medicinal purposes.

Taste

Cumin has a fresh and slightly pungent aroma, which is ideal for Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. 

Our Favorite Recipes With Cumin.

Find our favorite cumin recipes here.

How Healthy is Cumin?

The essential oils that give cumin its intense flavor also make it an effective balm for stressed stomachs. Cumin has long been used to aid flatulence and digestive problems, and ensures that rich and spicy foods are easier to digest. It also has an antispasmodic and soothing effect on the stomach and intestines and in naturopathy is said to help purify the blood as well as support healty liver and kidney function.

CUMIN NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 428
Protein 17.8 g
Fat 22.3 g
Carbohydrates 34 g
Fiber 10.5 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

Whole cumin seeds are mainly found in Turkish or Arabic food stores. There, you can also often find ground cumin in small bags or containers. In non-specialty supermarkets, cumin is generally found pre-ground, which is still delicious, if not entirely as flavorful as the freshly ground variety.

Storage

The essential oils which give cumin its intense arom and flavor evaporate quickly. Therefore always keep cumin well protected from light and air. If you buy cumin loose or packed in bags, you should transfer the powder into a tightly sealed metal tin or screw-top jar after opening, and always store it in the dark.

Preparation

If you have a mortar and pestle, it's worth grinding your own cumin from fresh seeds, for a particularly aromatic taste. Toasting the cumin seeds briefly before grinding will yield an even more flavorful spice.

What To Make With Cumin

With its pleasantly fresh, pungent aroma, cumin is an indispensable spice in many countries and is an essential ingredient in classic dishes from Indonesia, the Middle East and Latin America as well. Cumin is used particularly frequently to season poultry or lamb dishes, and pairs particularly well with seafood as well, especially North African dishes.

Cumin has also long been a staple in vegetarian and vegan dishes. It pairs perfectly with grains and rice, as well as noodles, potatoes and mixed vegetables. 

Try throwing some cumin in your next dip as well to add a spicy, hearty flavor. Cumin is especially delicious in hummus!

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