• The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

CUMIN ( Cuminum cyminum L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Green cumin, White cumin, Cummin
French Cumin, Cumin blanc, Cumin du Maroc, Faux anis
German Kreuzkümmel, Weißer Kreuzkümmel
Spanish Comino, Comino blanco
Italian Cumino, Cumino bianco
Turkish Kimyon, Acem kimyonu
Japanese Kumin, Umazeri

FAMILY: Apiaceae

ORIGIN:   East Mediterranean and it is cultivated in Iran, Turkey, India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Southern Russia, Morocco, Mexico


Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color. Cumin is available both in its whole seed form and ground into a powder.


The seeds are the source of the flavor. They may be used whole or more likely ground. Fruits that are frequently called seeds.

Ground cumin seeds

Cumin fruits (also called
cumin seeds)

Pungent, powerful, sharp and slightly bitter. Strongly aromatic; the aroma is characteristic and is modified by frying or dry toasting.


The fruits contain 2.5 to 4% essential oil. In the essential oil, cumin aldehyde (p-isopropyl-benzaldehyde, 25 to 35%), furthermore perilla aldehyde, cumin alcohol, α- and β-pinene (21%), dipentene, p-cymene and β-phellandrene were found.

In toasted cumin fruits, a large number of pyrazines has been identified as flavour compounds. Besides pyrazine and various alkyl derivatives (particularly, 2,5- and 2,6-dimethyl pyrazine), 2-alkoxy-3-alkylpyrazines seem to be the key compounds (2-ethoxy-3-isopropyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-methyl pyrazine). Also a sulfur compound, 2-methylthio-3-isopropyl pyrazine, was found. [1]


Cumin is used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Easterni Mexican, Portugese and Spanish cookery. It is generally used in grills, stews and chicken dishes and it is an ingredient of many curry powders and spice mixtures. Cumin is essential in spicy Mexican foods and also in Europe cumin flavours certain Portugese sausages. It is used to spice cheese and burned with woods to smoke cheeses and meats. It is used for fish dishes, grills, stews and flavour couscous. There is an Indian drink made from cumin and tamarind water.

Cumin is popular in kebabs and couscous which is a traditional food in Morocco, in mulligatawny soup, sausages, pickles, cakes and breads in German, Dutch cheese, in hummus and in India’s masalas and curries. It is also used in liqueur, such as kummel, when alcohol is flavored with cumin, caraway, and fennel.


Cumin has digestive benefits and it is being evaluated for possible anticancer and antioxidant effects.

Cumin is stomachic, diuretic, carminative, stimulant, astringent, emmenagogic and antispasmodic. It is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness, and may relieve flatulence and colic. Cumin is mainly used in veterinary medicine, as a carminative, but it remains a traditional herbal remedy in the East. It is supposed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy. It has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as diarrhea, indigestion, and morning sickness. Cumin also shows promise as a natural way to increase breast size. Used in a poultice, it relieves swelling of the breast or the testicles. Cumin stimulates the appetite. [2]

--> Iron for Energy and Immune Function

Cumin seeds are a very good source of iron which plays many vital roles in the body. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. Iron is instrumental in keeping the immune system healthy. Iron is particularly important for menstruating women, who lose iron each month during menses. Growing children and adolescents have increased needs for iron, as do women who are pregnant or lactating. [3]

--> Seeds of Good Digestion

Cumin seeds can benefit to the digestive system, and scientific research is beginning to bear out cumin's age-old reputation. Research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation. [3]

--> Cancer Prevention

Cumin seeds may have anti-carcinogenic properties. In one study, cumin was shown to protect laboratory animals from developing stomach or liver tumors. This cancer-protective effect may be due to cumin's potent free radical scavenging abilities as well as the ability it has shown to enhance the liver's detoxification enzymes. Yet, since free radical scavenging and detoxification are important considerations for the general maintenance of wellness, cumin's contribution to wellness may be even more farther reaching. [3]








• Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.

• Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York 1996.

• Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York 1971.

• Martinez-Tome M, Jimenez AM, Ruggieri S, et al. Antioxidant properties of Mediterranean spices compared with common food additives. J Food Prot 2001 Sep;64(9):1412-9 2001. PMID:12440.

• Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988 1988. PMID:15220.