Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum in the family Apiaceae, and is native from the east Mediterranean and East India. Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, and can be used ground or as whole seeds.

Cumin plant, 30-50 cm tall, is a herbaceous annual plant, with a slender branched stem 20-30 cm tall. The leaves, 5-10 cm long, are pinnate or bipinnate, with thread-like leaflets. It bears small, white or pink flowers in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 45 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds are yellow-brown in color, oblong in shaped, and longitudinally ridged. Cumin seeds are similar in appearance but hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger than caraway seeds. Cumin seeds are harvested by hand.

Cumin plant is drought-tolerant, and is mostly grown in mediterranean climates. Cumin plant is grown from seed, sown in spring, and needs fertile, well-drained soil.

Cumin seed is popular in Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, Northern Mexican cuisines, and Sichuan and Xinjiang cuisines in the Western China. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisines.

Cumin seeds and ground cuminCumin seeds and ground cumin
Author: Henna (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 1.0 Generic)

Cumin seedsCumin seeds
Author: Miansari66 (public domain)

Cumin seedsCumin seeds
Author: Sanjay Acharya (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

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