What is Cumin? 

What is cumin? Growing naturally in hot areas of the world such as Egypt, North Africa, India and South America, cumin is a powerful spice used in a variety of foods, especially chili con carne, stews, soups and enchiladas. It exudes a rich, sweetly spicy aroma while tasting pungently warm and slightly bitter. Resembling caraway seeds, cumin seeds are lighter colored, larger and a bit hotter tasting. Cumin seeds grow on a slender plant preferring sandy soil that usually reaches around ten inches in height. While the pink or white flowers bloom in the middle of summer, the seeds are generally ready to be harvested about one month afterward.

What is Cumin?What is Cumin?

What is Cumin Spice?

Cumin spice is made from cumin seeds which have been gently roasted first, then ground into a fine powder. Whole cumin seeds can also be used in certain recipes. Ground cumin should be kept in an airtight container to prevent loss of pungency, while whole seeds do not need such protection. Use cumin carefully in foods, however, as just a little bit is needed to correctly flavor the dish. As a rule, only a teaspoon or less is necessary, depending on the amount of food being enhanced by the cumin spice.

What is Cumin Used For in Medicinal Potions?

Cumin contains vitamins and minerals and is said to increase appetite when used in tonics. In addition to protein, niacin, folate and calcium, cumin also contains vitamins B, C, and E and iron and magnesium. Some health issues for which it is used as a treatment include:

  • water retention
  • diarrhea
  • colic
  • alleviate nausea
  • stomachache
  • relieving spasms
  • hoarseness

A common use for cumin seeds in Sri Lanka is to boil them in water to create a tea that soothes morning sickness early in pregnancy. Holistic practitioners in South Asia give cumin seeds to those who have trouble digesting food without cramping, which actually correlates with research evidence that points to cumin possibly containing enzymes which may help break down hard-to-digest foods.

Respiratory ailments can be treated by drinking cumin tea two or three times a day. If a sore or lumpy throat accompanies a cold, add dry ginger to the tea to soothe the irritation. You can also apply cumin as a poultice for boils or other skin eruptions. Use a paste made from cumin powder and water and apply (don't rub) to the blemish.

What is Cumin Seasoning?

Anyone who likes Thai, Indian or Mexican cooking will love using cumin in their food. A favorite Indian dish below that uses cumin is Curried Cumin Potatoes.


  • 2 Pounds new potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin seed
  • 2 Teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 Teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 Teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 Teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Put whole potatoes into a large pan of water and boil, cooking the potatoes until they are tender.

Cut them into quarters and set aside.

Then heat oil in a sauté pan and add cumin, curry and turmeric powder, letting them cook for one minute.

Add potatoes and sauté these ingredients until the potatoes are toasted.

Before serving, mix potatoes with sea salt, cilantro and pepper.



  • 1 Can (20 ounces) V-8 juice
  • ½ Can water
  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil PLUS EXTRA
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 3 Cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ Teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ Teaspoon cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Pound ground beef
  • ½ Cup chopped onion
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon cumin
  • 4 Ounces green canned chilies diced
  • 8 Ounces salsa
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1 Pound grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Can chopped ripe olives

Heat V-8 juice and water in saucepan.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet; brown flour, garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt

Stir in juice mixture; simmer 20 minutes and set aside.

TO MAKE FILLING brown beef and onion; add salt, cumin, chilies and salsa and set aside.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375F degrees.

TO ASSEMBLE soften tortillas in a little hot oil; spoon filling, olives and cheese in center.

Roll up tucking ends under; place in casserole baking dish.

After all filling has been used cover with sauce; top with grated cheese.

Bake 20 minutes; serve with lettuce, salsa, fried rice and refried beans.

What is cumin when it is referred to as black cumin? Black cumin is not the cumin used in food but is a cumin seed originating from a plant belonging to the same family as the spicy cumin seed. Black cumin oil is available in health food stores in capsule form and is said to contain even more health benefits than its relative the spicy cumin.