Scientific: Nigella sativa [WikiPedia]
Composition: Cumin contains
lots of plant compounds that are linked with potential health benefits,
including terpenes, phenols, flavonoids and alkaloids. The strong
aromatic smell and warm, bitterish taste of Cumin fruits are due to the
presence of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation of the
fruit with water. It is limpid and pale yellow in colour, and is mainly a
mixture of cymol or cymene and cuminic aldehyde, or cyminol, which is
its chief constituent. The tissue of the fruits contains a fatty oil
with resin, mucilage and gum, malates and albuminous matter, and in the
outerseed coat there is much tannin.
Appearance: Black cumin is an
annual herbaceous plant with fine foliage and delicate pale bluish
purple or white flowers. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean, but
grows prolifically in many areas of the world.
Parts Used: The seeds are used in cooking and teas. The oil is used both cosmetically and medicinally.
Common Uses: Cumin seed is
used as a spice for its distinctive flavour and aroma. Cumin can be
found in some cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional
breads from France. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often
Tex-Mex or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos,
sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, bahaarat, and is used to flavor
numerous commercial food products. In South Asian cooking, it is often
combined with coriander seeds in a powdered mixture called dhana jeera.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It imparts an earthy,
warming and aromatic character to food, making it a staple in certain
stews and soups, as well as spiced gravies such as curry and chili. It
is also used as an ingredient in some pickles and pastries. The seeds
are powdered and used in different forms like kashaya (decoction),
arishta (fermented decoction), and vati (tablet/pills), and processed
with ghee (a semifluid clarified butter). In traditional medicine
practices of several countries, dried cumin seeds are believed to have
medicinal purposes, although there is no scientific evidence for any use
as a drug or medicine. In southern Indian states, a popular drink
called jira water is made by boiling cumin seeds.
In a 100-g reference amount, cumin seeds provide high
amounts of the Daily Value for fat (especially monounsaturated fat),
protein, and dietary fiber. B vitamins, vitamin E, and several dietary
minerals, especially iron, magnesium, and manganese, are present in
substantial Daily Value amounts. Cumin seeds contain petroselinic acid.
Modern studies have confirmed some of the health
benefits cumin is traditionally known for, including promoting digestion
and reducing food-borne infections. Research has also revealed some new
benefits, such as promoting weight loss and improving blood sugar
control and cholesterol.
Topic Specific Research:
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and
other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe
and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any
other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
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