Cumin is from a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native to the eastern Mediterranean and India. Its seeds have been in use since ancient times, those of which 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.
Originally cultivated in Iran and Mediterranean region, cumin is mentioned in the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The ancient Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. There are several different types of cumin but the most famous ones are black and green cumin which are both used in Persian cuisine.
Today, it is mostly grown in India, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Mexico, Chile, and China. In India, cumin has been used for millennia as a traditional ingredient of innumerable kormas, masalas, soups and other spiced gravies. It is a great aid in digestion and prevents indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea and morning sickness.
Some homeopathic attributes include chewing a pinch-full of raw cumin seeds for relief from acidity and sipping a concoction of cumin seeds and water to ward off common colds and keep the digestive system on track. Many South-Indian households drink only ‘jeera-pani’ instead of sipping on plain boiled water.
Ground cumin is essential for hummus and it also helps this dish shine.
T olive oil
¼ c chopped white onion
C torn kale
½ T cumin
½ c prepared rice
Braise onions in oil for two minutes over medium heat. Add kale and allow to wilt. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and toss with rice.