Cuminum cyminum

The small, light-brown, dried seeds of cumin resemble common caraway seeds, but are somewhat lighter in colour. They come from an annual herbaceous plant that grows up to 30 centimetres high. The numerous slender leaves are similar to those of fennel. The rose-coloured or white umbels each produce two, oblong, yellowish-brown seeds used whole or ground.

Countries of origin

USA, North Africa, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Indonesia, China, Japan, Mexico, Chile, Russia
Cumin is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Upper Egypt, where it was valued not only for flavouring foods, but also in the mummification of the Pharaohs. Today, this age-old crop plant is usually grown in countries with hot climates, such as Turkey, India and China.

Flavour and aroma

Cumin has a somewhat pungent aroma and is characterised by a strong, slightly bitter and sharp taste. That makes cumin an unpopular spice among some, while others develop a true passion for it. Mexican cuisine (e.g. chili con carne), Indian/Indonesian rice and meat dishes, curry mixtures, chutneys and seasoning sauces Cumin is one of the typical spices in Indonesian rice dishes and an ingredient in curry mixtures and Indian chutneys, such as mango chutney. In Arabic and Latin American cuisines, it seasons hearty meat dishes, such as Mexican chili con carne. Cumin is a typical blending spice that goes well with all other exotic spices. It should, however, be used sparingly.

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