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What is cumin?
Cumin - a touch of the Orient
Cumin is an indispensable part of Arabic and Oriental cuisine. The all-rounder is increasingly finding enthusiastic fans in the local kitchen - and not without reason.
Thanks to its unique taste, the spice can enrich a variety of delicious dishes and also have a positive impact on our health.
It is not for nothing that cumin is known in Ayurvedic cuisine as one of the ten king spices that have a positive effect not only on the body but also on the mind.
Cuminum cyminum is the Latin name for cumin. It is also known as mother or oat cumin, Roman cumin, cumin and pepper cumin. Like the native caraway, cumin belongs to the umbelliferous plant family. The small, elongated, light brown, dried seeds are very similar in shape to those of normal caraway, but much lighter. However, do not confuse them - both have completely different tastes. If they are simply exchanged, there may be unpleasant surprises.
And why the name?
The white and pale pink blooming flowers grow on the mostly bare stems of the plant, the leaves are arranged in a cross shape. Together with the caraway-like seeds, this is the reason for the German-language name. The annual plant grows up to 50cm high, flowers from May to June and is native to the eastern Mediterranean and northern Egypt.
Cumin was found in Egyptian pharaohs tombs and mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Roman Empire, too, cumin was a popular herb and medicinal plant. Historians therefore estimate that cumin is one of the oldest spices in the world.
Where does cumin come from?
The origin is mainly limited to:
- Sri Lanka,
- Latin America,
- China and
- the southern Mediterranean.
How does cumin taste?
The taste of cumin is very spicy. It tastes good slightly bitter and sharpwithout reminding you of pepper, and exudes you bitter, downright earthy fragrance. The cumin flavor becomes even more intense when it is boiled or roasted, so you should dose it carefully.
The seeds can be used whole or ground. In order for the seeds to develop their full aroma, they should be roasted in a pan without fat before grinding until they give off their scent. The freshly ground cumin then tastes very intense.
What is cumin used for in the kitchen?
A typical dish to use is the Falafel. For this purpose, pureed chickpeas, ideally in combination with fresh coriander, are formed into small balls and fried. It is also contained in many spice mixtures known worldwide, such as in the Indian Garam Masala, in the North African Harissa, in curry powder or the Bengali mixture Panchaphoron. The cumin spice can also be used in a Mexican one Chili con / sin carne, homemade humus, Bulgur salad, the North African dish couscous, Stew and Meat or minced dishes, especially with lamb.
Also one Barbecue marinade can get an oriental note with the spice. In Turkey or Bulgaria the spice is used in Permanent sausages used, for example in Sucuk or Pastirma. In countries around the Mediterranean, cumin, similar to ours, is called caraway Bread spice used.
In Germany he will be happy for Roast potatoes and Coleslaw used.
In the Netherlands, on the other hand, there is cumin cheese as a specialty, such as “Leidse Kaas”, a cheese made from skimmed cow's milk. Cumin cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the Netherlands. Also in popular Dutch Gouda cheese Cumin is sometimes found next to pepper. But not only that, Hildegard von Bingen already recommended cumin for cheese, as it has a positive effect on fat digestion and protein utilization. Pure Vegetable dishesLike stuffed aubergines or tomatoes, the use of cumin gives it an exotic touch. Even in any kind of curry Cumin is always a pleasure.
In connection with raisins, cumin can be quite interesting. If you are looking for a liquid variant to use cumin, the combination with alcohol is recommended. If cumin is mixed with alcohol, a tasty liqueur can be produced, which can have a beneficial effect, especially after large meals.
Another liquid variation without alcohol is making a tea. To do this, add a teaspoon of cumin seeds to 200 ml of water and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as the water turns brown, take the pot off the stove. The tea is then poured off and then cooled to room temperature.
The following dishes can definitely be seasoned with cumin:
- Chili con carne,
- Meat dishes,
- vegetarian dishes,
- Rice dishes,
- Bread and other baked goods,
- Sausage (sucuk, pastirma),
- Liqueur and
Buy and store cumin
The cumin spice is widespread worldwide today, which is why it is available in every well-stocked specialist shop. Since the oils contained in the seed are volatile, it is beneficial to buy cumin whole. The spice should be stored cool, dry, dark and protected from light, only then will it retain its aroma for a long time. But ground cumin also lasts a relatively long time if it is well stored.
Here in the shop:
Health Aspects of Cumin
Thanks to the contained cuminaldehyde and terpin, cumin stimulates the digestion. As with German dishes in which caraway is used, cumin relieves stomach cramps, bloating or gas. Chewing the seeds works against bad breath, even after eating garlic or onions. Cumin also lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels and helps the body to detoxify and purify. According to Ayurvedic belief, cumin should purify the blood and thereby support liver and kidney functions.
Another Ayurvedic assumption is that the spice can relieve severe digestive disorders, including hemorrhoids. For this purpose, the seeds should be roasted dry in a pan, cooled and then ground. The powder, mixed with water and honey, should be drunk on an empty stomach. Cumin is also suitable for treating joint pain (osteoarthritis). A spice mixture combined with nutmeg and coriander is said to help relieve pain in osteoarthritis patients and can even help reduce pain reliever medication. Anyone who wants to protect their bone density, for example during menopause, can also use cumin. Because studies have shown that it can improve both the bone density and the microstructure of the bones.
Cumin also has an antispasmodic effect and can therefore also have a beneficial effect on menstrual cramps. Cumin can also be used to treat Candida albicans, a common intestinal fungus. Circular and scaly, non-itchy skin eczema are common symptoms. In studies, cumin has not only been bacterial but also has an anti-fungal effect.
The Iranian Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences has examined the positive effects of cumin on health in more detail. The goal of weight loss was in the foreground. For this purpose, two groups of women fed each other identically for three months. However, the participants in the first group consumed three grams of cumin (about one teaspoon) every day. While the women in the group without cumin lost an average of 4.91 percent, the caraway group had a three times higher decrease rate and lost 14.64 percent.
The cumin also apparently lowered the levels of LDL cholesterol and harmful blood lipids. The scientists are convinced that the phytosterols contained in cumin are responsible for these effects, as they prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
In addition to being used in seed or powder form, there is also cumin oil on the market today. For this, the oil is obtained by steam distillation of the seeds - by the way, 33kg of seeds are needed for 1kg of oil. Cumin oil has a yellowish color and a spicy, warm smell. It is insoluble in water and just as poorly soluble in alcohol, but excellent in vegetable oils.
The oil comes in different variants, both externally and internally. For people prone to atopic dermatitis, the oil is suitable, for example, mixed with sea salt, cream and honey for a soothing full or foot bath. The oil can also have a calming effect on itchy skin in a glass of warm water. For a soothing cold or warm compress, two to four drops of the oil should be mixed in two liters of water. For a stomach massage, for example for flatulence or cramps in babies or for menstrual cramps, you simply put a few drops of the oil on your hands and distribute it evenly over your stomach. Massage should be done with both hands in gentle circles in a clockwise direction. But be careful, sensitive skin can be prone to irritation when exposed to sunlight, as the oil is phototoxic. Special precautions for sun protection are necessary here. In combination with other essential oils such as anise, fennel or lavender oil, cumin oil can give the fragrance lamp new vigor and energy.
Even if people describe the scent as pleasant, it repels bugs or mosquitoes. So this is another positive side effect. Overdosed, however, the oil no longer has a calming effect, but downright narcotic, and cumin oil should also be used cautiously in the fragrance lamp (about one drop). In summary, cumin can be used to support many ailments:
- Stomach discomfort,
- Intestinal colic,
- Bad breath,
- Joint pain,
- inner restlessness,
- Menstrual cramps,
- itchy skin,
The ten royal spices
Also in the Ayurvedic teaching Cumin is very popular. Knowledge of life (the translation of "Ayurveda") should hold body and mind together through eating and drinking, with the main focus being on a functioning digestion. The basis for traditional health teachings are spices that promote health and have a beneficial effect on people.
The ten royal spices of the comprehensive herbal medicine include besides cumin still Black pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, saffron, cardamom, Cloves, coriander and ginger. They have established themselves in gastronomy all over the world, while the others limit themselves primarily to regional cuisines. These spices contain so-called secondary plant substances, which can have a positive effect on the body's own immune system.
Instead of adding heavy salt to a meal, it is better to use the refined spices. The royal spices are a way of combining all six flavors (salty, sweet, sour, hot, tart and bitter). They should be present in every dish.
By the way, Ayurvedic cuisine should by no means only use exotic foods. Rather, it is said in Indian medicine, which is over 5000 years old, that food that is harvested no further than 90 kilometers from the place of residence can be particularly energetic. A shopping spree at the weekly market or the farm shop not only strengthens local agriculture and sustainable nutrition, but is also good for your body. Ayurvedic nutrition is all about harmony.
So that Ayurvedic cuisine can work, the food should always be cooked, served and eaten together with other people. Eating in front of the TV, with a book or “to go” should be a thing of the past - regardless of whether you believe in health or not.
Typical Ayurvedic dishes in which cumin is also used are, for example, Indian chickpeas, kitchari (a rice and lentil dish), Cahpati (Indian flatbread), potatoes with cabbage, aloo paratha (flatbread with potato filling), mung-dal soup (mung -Dal are peeled mung beans), sambar (spicy lentil soup), dosa (rice and lentil pancakes), spicy fried potatoes, cumin rice, red lentil soup or a lassi (Indian yogurt drink).
So cumin should not be missing on any well-stocked spice rack. The essential oils not only give dishes a great, extraordinary aroma and conjure up an oriental note in the home kitchen, they also stimulate the metabolism, strengthen the body's immune system and can have a beneficial effect on mental health.
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