A typical ingredient in Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern cuisine, cumin seeds or jeera is either used in the form of dried seeds or ground spice.
Cumin seeds are distinct brown in color, similar to caraway seeds but with more intense flavor.
Dry Cumin Seeds
- Dry cumin seeds are added to heated oil/ghee and roasted well. The roasted seeds are then used to season dal recipes, any curry recipe or plain rice.
- Dry cumin seeds can also be dry-roasted (without any oil/ghee) in a heated pan, on medium heat.
Ground Cumin Seeds
- Whole cumin seeds can be dry-roasted and then ground to a powdered form in a mortar and pestle/blender.
- Ground seeds (cumin powder) can be used to season recipes like dahi-bada, plain yogurt and boondi raita.
This flavoring spice is a store house of health benefits-
- Promotes digestion- Researchers say that cumin extract treats nausea, cramps and bloating associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Cumin seeds are believed to aid in digestion.
- Rich in iron- The active ingredients found in cumin seeds are a good source of iron.
- May help in controlling diarrhea- It is a traditional practice in India to use cumin seeds to treat diarrhea.
- May aid in weight loss- Thymoquinone, the unique component found in jeera boosts metabolism thus helping one control their weight.
- May help control cholesterol and Diabetes- It is believed that cumin powder mixed with yogurt helps reduce cholesterol. Jeera water, if taken empty stomach in morning, is said to balance sugar levels.
- Anti cancer properties- Cumin along with basil is supposed to have strong anti-cancer properties. It is believed to prevent cancer cells from multiplying.
- Anti inflammatory properties- A cumin rich diet is said to cure inflammation and associated pain. It is believed to have antiseptic properties too.
Note: A cup of warm cumin tea after meals is said to aid digestion and help in weight loss. Boil 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds in water and let it steep for 7-10 minutes. Strain it into a cup and enjoy the hot soothing tea.
How to Select and Store Cumin Seeds
It is better to use whole cumin seeds as the powdered form loses its flavor quickly.
While buying cumin seeds, look for brownish yellow oval-shaped seeds. Read the label carefully to ensure that you are not buying caraway seeds.
While the ground cumin lasts for six months, whole cumin seeds can last up to an year if stored in an airtight glass container in a cool and dry place.
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