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. There are several different types of cumin but the most famous ones are black and green cumin which are both used in Persian cuisine.
It has since returned to favour in parts of Europe. Today, it is mostly grown in Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, Chile, and China. 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 2000.
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon(s) cumin seeds
3 green chillies finely chopped
2 medium onions grated
8 medium pieces
(about 800 grams) of chicken
2 teaspoons grated garlic
8 teaspoon(s) grated ginger
1 teaspoon(s) cumin powder
1 teaspoon(s) hot spice mix (garam masala) powder
1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
salt and freshly milled pepper to taste
1 cup(s) hot water
cumin powder to garnish
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add the green chillies and sliced onions. Saute on medium heat for about 3 minutes or till the onions are soft and light golden.
- Add the chicken pieces and cook stirring for about 8 minutes or till the chicken pieces are no longer pink.
- Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or till the chicken pieces are well cooked. If the chicken is not yet cooked and the gravy looks dry, add more hot water little by little as required whilst stirring. Cover and cook on low heat till done.
- Cumin seeds are used as a spice in cooking.
- It helps to cure flatulence and colic pain. After heavy meals and to children after feed it can be given to prevent intestinal colic.
- In 1 litre water add 1-teaspoon cumin seeds and boil it. This water has to be consumed the same day it should not be used the next day.
- Cumin is of benefit to the heart and uterus and is given to women after childbirth to increase breast milk.
- Cumin seeds contain good amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, iron and phosphorous.
- Externally it can be used in liniments for stimulating circulation and bringing warmth to the area.
Cumin’s Effect on Health
Cumin is a seed that has been used since antiquity. It’s health benefits and medicinal uses were well known even then. Today, this seed of a small flowering herb of the parsley family might not be used quite as much in food preparation as it was 5000 years ago, but it’s healing properties are still valued and used in natural and Ayurvedic healing.
This traditional herbal remedy has many uses. I is a stimulant as well as a great herb for digestive disorders and even as a antiseptic of sorts. The seeds themselves are rich in iron and are thought to help stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas which can help absorb nutrients into the system. It has also been shown to boost the power of the liver’s ability to detoxify the human body.
Recent studies have revealed that cumin seeds might also have anti-carcinogenic properties1. In laboratory tests, this powerful little seed was shown to reduce the risk of stomach and liver tumors in animals.
The health benefits of cumin for digestive disorders has been well known throughout history. It can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, morning sickness, and atonic dyspepsia. In this case, the seeds are boiled in water to make a tea of sorts – 1 teaspoon seeds to 1 glass water. Mix with salt and a teaspoon of coriander leaf juice.
Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to it’s antiseptic properties. Again, you’ll want to boil the seeds in a tea and then drink a couple of times a day. If you also have a sore throat then try adding some dry ginger to help soothe it.
Cumin can also be applied topically and is said to be a good salve for boils. Make a black cumin paste by grinding seeds with water and apply to the affected area.
Cumin makes a great tonic for the body even if you don’t have a specific ailment to cure. It is said to increase the heat in the body thus making metabolism more efficient. It is also thought to be a powerful kidney and liver herb and can help boost your immune system. Though the appropriate studies have yet to be conducted, some believe black cumin seeds may even be able to help treat asthma and arthritis.
So the next time you are offered a bowl of cumin- go ahead and eat it. You may get something that tastes great along with the many health benefits of cumin.