Cumin is a strong aromatic of dried ripe fruit (seed) of Cuminum cyminum L. It is variously known as: cumin, kummel, comino, zireh-e sabz, cumino, kemon, zira, kamun. Cumin is indigenous to northern Egypt, the Mediterranean región, Iran and India.
Cumin is a mixture of united and separated mericarps; yellowish Green or yellowish Brown, elongated avoid; 3-6 mm in length.
These fruits (seeds) belong to a small anual herb 15 to 50 cm in height, with long slender and White roots, bidivaricated branching stem, long, narrow deep green slender leaves and small umbels of white or rose-coloured flower, covered with tiny hairs.
Cumin has about 2-5% of volatile oil and about 10% fixed oil, together with tannins, oleoresin, mucilage, gum, protein compounds and malates. The characteristic cumin odour is due to the presence of its essential oil. This odour and flavour is due principally to the aldehydes present or cuminol, p-menth-3-en-7-ol and p-mentha 1,3-dien-7-ol.
Cumin seed is an ancient spice with a strong aromatic smell and warm, bitterish taste. It is widely used in Iran and India both as a condiment and flavouring in many Eastern dishes. In Biblical times cumin seeds were value for their digestive properties and were used for flavouring bread and other dishes during the periods of ceremonial fasting, to make up for the lack of meat.
Cumin seed and distilled cumin are used as a stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative and antimicrobial agent. They are used as a carminative particularly in veterinary practice. Cumin is used widely in traditional medicine to treat flatulence, digestive disorders, diarrhoea and in the treatment of wounds.