Within the world of spices, it has a unique color and flavor because it isn't categorized with the rest of the greens such as its counterparts oregano, parsley, and basil.
Cumin is one of the most aromatic herbs with the most combined strengths. Its seeds, thin and brown grains similar to grains of rice,are used to season foods but also for medicinal purposes.
The properties of cumin are due to an active compound found in its essential oil called cumin aldehyde or cumaldehyde. Thanks to this compound, cumin is considered to be a stomach tonic and an appetite and intestinal peristalsis stimulator. It whets your appetite, stimulates digestion, and facilitates evacuation. In addition, it eases and prevents the bothersome symptoms of aerophagia [bloating] thus contributing to the disappearance of intestinal gases and making digestion less bothersome.
There is proof that the Egyptians used cumin 5,000 years ago because of its taste and healing properties. There are biblical references to the act of threshing cumin with a rod, a practice that is still carried out today in some regions of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, cumin was the symbol of greed and stinginess. However, during the Middle Ages this reputation changed and it came to symbolize fidelity. In Germany, where cumin is a very popular spice, the bride and groom wear a small amount of this spice in order to reinforce their commitment to faithfulness.
The plant is native to Eastern Mediterranean countries and Northern Egypt, but it's currently cultivated in Morocco, Iran, Turkey, India, China, and on the American continent.
Its flavor makes it excellent for seasoning salads, sauces, and bean or lentil stews and also for marinating meats and fish.
Adding it to legume dishes makes them more digestive. This digestive property can also be brought out by using cumin to season flatulence-causing vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
In Central European countries it's common to season pork with cumin, a practice that was carried to the Caribbean islands. In Cuba for example, it's used as an essential seasoning to complement fried foods, such as fried onions, garlic and chili, and it's even fried alongside these ingredients to enhance their flavors.
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