Chemical constituents & Uses of Cumin
The strong aromatic smell and warm, bitter taste of Cumin fruits are due
to the presence of a volatile oil, cumin aldehyde, which exists in the
proportion 2.5 to 4%. It 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
The characteristic odor of cumin is caused primarily by aldehydes that
are present in the oil.
- Cumin is used mainly where highly spiced foods are preferred.
- It features in Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Portuguese
and Spanish cookery.
- It is an ingredient of most curry powders and many savoury spice
mixtures, and is used in stews, grills - especially lamb - and chicken
- Cumin is a critical ingredient of chili powder, and is found in
achiote blends, adobos, garam masala, curry powder, and baharat.
- Cumin is used as a flavoring agent in cheeses, pickles, sausages,
soups, stews, stuffing, rice and bean dishes, and liqueurs.
- It gives bite to plain rice, and to beans and cakes.
- Small amounts can be usefully used in aubergine and kidney bean
- Oil of cumin is used in fragrances.
- Cumin is frequently used in Mexican dishes such as chili con carne,
enchiladas with chili sauce and hot tamales.
- In the Middle East, it is a familiar spice for fish dishes, grills
and stews and flavours couscous - semolina steamed over meat and
vegetables, the national dish of Morocco.
- A refreshing and appetizing Indian drink, zeera pani is made from
cumin and tamarind water.
- As a medicinal plant, cumin has been utilized as a stimulant,
antispasmodic, carminative and sedative.
- Cumin oil has been reported to have antibacterial activity.
- It is used as a corrective for the flatulency of languid digestion
and as a remedy for colic and dyspeptic headache.
- It was recommended as a cure for stitches and pains in the side
caused by the sluggish congestion of indolent parts.
- Its principal employment is in veterinary medicine. Bay-salt and
Cumin-seeds mixed, is a universal remedy for the diseases of pigeons,
especially scabby backs and breasts.
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