Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family native from the east Mediterranean to India. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (12–20 in) tall and is harvested by hand. It has a distinctive bitter flavor and strong, warm aroma due to its abundant oil content.
|Common Uses||Cumin is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder.|
|History||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. In the ancient Egyptian civilization, cumin was used as spice and as preservative in mummification. Originally cultivated in Iran and the Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23). The ancient Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container, and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. In India, it has been used for millennia as a traditional ingredient of innumerable kormas, masalas, and soups, and forms the basis of many other spice blends.|