The yellowy brown oval shaped seeds can be used whole or ground into a powder. Cumin is the dried seed of the herb called Cuminum cyminum, which is a member of the parsley family.
Cumin gives a warm pungent flavour and brings out the natural sweetness of the dish. When used whole they are roasted, which intensifies their flavour and gives a warm pungent aroma with a nutty texture.
Cumin is high in iron content and also has properties to help the digestion process by stimulating pancreatic enzymes.
Cumin is the most commonly used spice in Indian cooking and is known as Jeera. This is used as a whole spice and tempered in oil to allow its aromatics to penetrated the oil. It forms a lovely partner with mustard seeds especially in vegetarian dishes. Once ground it is used in marinades and masala pastes. It is also the key base spice of garam masala.