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Information for Cumin

Cumin is an aromatic spice that is derived from the seeds of this flowering plant belonging to the Apiaceae family. It is native to India and the east Mediterranean. The word cumin is taken from many origins that boil down the Greek term kuminon which is similar to some Hebrew and Arabic words.

This annual herbaceous plant grows to be 12" to 20" (30 to 50 cm) tall with slender branched stems and feather like leaflets. Its flowers are born in umbels and are white or pink in color. The fruit carries a single seed which is oblong in shape with ridges and yellow-brown in color.

Flavor wise, it carries a strong, warm aroma that comes from the large oil content and a distinct bitter and peppery taste mixed with nuttiness and some citrus overtones. This can be used as both a whole seed and ground.

Cumin is often used in spice blends such as curry and chili powder as well as in curried dishes, chutneys and soups. Aside from this it blends well with poultry, fish, lamb, rice, beans, eggplant and many others. Many Mexican, Mediterranean, Nepalese, Indian, western Chinese, Sri Lankan, Cuban and North African dishes also use cumin liberally as seasoning.

Photo Credit: paul goyette
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