Learning about Spices
What is a spice?
Why were spices important?
Sources of spices
Perfumes and Incenses 
Use of spices as aphrodisiacs
Use of spices as medicines
Culinary herbs
A spice timeline

Table of Spices
Allspice (Pimento)
Anise
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Cassia
Chile Pepper
Chocolate
Cinnamon
Clove
Coriander (Cilantro)
Cumin
Dill
Fennel
Fenugreek
Frankincense and Myrrh
Galangal
Garlic
Ginger
Horseradish
Licorice
Mustard
Nutmeg and Mace
Onion
Saffron
Sugar
Sumac
Tamarind
Turmeric
Vanilla

Contacts and Acknowledgments
Common Name CUMIN CUMIN
Click image to enlarge
Genus SpeciesCuminum cyminum
FamilyApiaceae
Origin East Mediterranean
Cultivated Iran, Turkey, India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Southern Russia, Morocco, Mexico
  
  
  
  
  
Description This seed spice is, like coriander, an ancient Mediterranean flavor. It is popular in Morocco in kabobs and couscous, in England in mulligatawny soup, in German sausages, pickles, cakes and breads, Dutch cheese, Mexican sauces and chili con carne, in hummus and in India’s masalas and curries. It is also used in liqueur, such as kummel, when alcohol is flavored with cumin, caraway, and fennel. Cumin and caraway are often confused with each other, and with anise, which is sometimes called sweet cumin. In the U.S.A., this spice is used in condiments, in flavors and in perfumes. Cumin is grown extensively in Iran, and is used in many Persian recipes. However, the Iranian spice, black cumin, and the similar spice, nigella, are less popular outside Iran, India and a few other countries, in which they are mostly used for flavoring rice dishes. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.
Useful Parts The seeds are the source of the flavor. They may be used whole or more likely ground.
Medicinal Properties Cumin resembles other similar old spices, having been advocated for many medical indications. There is no evidence that it has useful properties other than being a spicy flavor with digestive benefits. Nevertheless, it is being evaluated for possible anticancer and antioxidant effects.
See chemicals in spices.
Historical View “Cumin agrees with the other umbelliferous fruits in being mildly stimulant, aromatic, and carminative. It is, however, rarely or ever used internally in this country, or in the United States, for medicinal purposes, caraway being equally efficient and a much mor agreeable remedy. In India, however, cumin fruits are much valued as a carminative by the natives. As a discutient and resolvent, cumin is sometimes used externally in the form of the old official “Emplastrum Cumini” of the London Pharmacopoeia.”

Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)
CUMIN
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Spice Exhibit URL: http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm

History & Special Collections
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