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Cumin : Popularly called zeera, it has a number of medicinal properties but its main area of action seems to be the gastro-intestinal tract. Apart from having a pronounced carminative and digestive effect, cumin is wind-repellent, anti-colic, anti-obesity and intestinal absorbent herb. It is light, dry, sharp and hot in effect and its use with oil or ghee forms the basic way to prepare most of the Indian curries.
Cumin is a hot, nutty flavored spice. It is used as whole dried seeds and as cumin ground powder. Cumin seed is an important spice for many vegetable curries, soups and other dishes.Cumin grows in most hot countries like India, China, North Africa, and the Americas. The cumin seeds should be lightly roasted before being used whole or ground to bring out the aroma. Cumin may also be pounded with other spices in mixtures such as curry powder. Ground cumin must be kept airtight, to retain its pungency.
Cumin seeds contain protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, iron and phosphorous. Cumin stimulates the appetite. Cumin is believed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy. In India cumin is given to new mothers in puddings and other dishes for increased lactation. Cumin is diuretic, stimulant, astringent, emmenagogic, and antispasmodic. It is helpful in dyspepsia diarrhoea see and hoarseness. Cumin helps to cure colic pain. It relieves swelling of the body, especially of breast or testicles, if used in a poultice.
Cumin is used as a spice in Indian, Mexican, Portuguese, Eastern, Middle Eastern, and Spanish cookery. It is an important ingredient of most curry powders. Cumin seeds are used in many recipes to improve taste and flavor.(extracted from:http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/spices/cumin.html
–Cultivation—Although we get nearly all our supplies from the Mediterranean, it would be perfectly feasible to grow Cumin in England, as it will ripen its fruit as far north as Norway. It is, however, and seeds are generally somewhat difficult to obtain.
They should be sown in small pots, filled with light soil and plunged into a very moderate hot bed to bring up the plants. These should be hardened gradually in an open frame and transplanted into a warm border of good soil, preserving the balls of earth which adhere to the roots in the pots. Keep clean of weeds and the plants will flower very well and will probably perfect their seeds if the season should be warm and favourable.
The plants are threshed when the fruit is ripe and the ‘seeds’ dried in the same manner as Caraway.
-Constituents—The strong aromatic smell and warm, bitterish taste of Cumin fruits are due to the presence of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation of the fruit with water, and exists in the proportion of 2 to 4 per cent. It is limpid and pale yellow in colour, and is mainly a mixture of cymol or cymene and cuminic aldehyde, or cyminol, which is its chief constituent.
The tissue of the fruits contains a fatty oil with resin, mucilage and gum, malates and albuminous matter, and in the outerseed coat there is much tannin. The yield of ash is about 8 per cent.
-Medicinal Action and Uses—Stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative. The older herbalists esteemed Cumin superior in comforting carminative qualities to Fennel or Caraway, but on account of its very disagreeable flavour, its medicinal use at the present day is almost confined to veterinary practice, in which it is employed as a carminative.
Formerly Cumin had considerable repute as a corrective for the flatulency of languid digestion and as a remedy for colic and dyspetic headache. Bruised and applied externally in the form of a plaster, it was recommended as a cure for stitches and pains in the side caused by the sluggish congestion of indolent parts, and it has been compounded with other drugs to form a stimulating liniment.
Bay-salt and Cumin-seeds mixed, is a universal remedy for the diseases of pigeons, especially scabby backs and breasts. The proportions of the remedy are: 1/4 lb. Baysalt, 1/4 lb. Common Salt, 1 lb. Fennel-seeds, 1 lb. Dill-seeds, 1 lb. Cumin-seeds, 1 OZ. Assafoetida; mix all with a little wheaten flour and some fine-worked clay; when all are well beaten together, put into two earthen pots and bake them in the oven. When cold, put them on the table in the dove-cote; the pigeons will eat it and thus be cured.
- It increases the capacity of producing milk in a woman.
- A daily use of handful of cumin seeds, cures night blindness and decreases the level of temprature in the body.
- Twelve grams of memordic- charantia (kereal) mixed with one spoon of powdered cumin seeds cure ague.
- A mixture of powdered coriander seeds, powdered cumin seeds and sugar, cures acidity and inflammation in the chest due to it.
- Use of cumin seeds checks hiccups, eliminates colic in stomach, swelling of intestine due to indigestion.
- Six grams of powdered cumin seeds mixed with old raw sugar and after making small pills of one gram each, if taken, it cures fever.
- A baked mixture of cumin seeds, black pepper and rock salt (all in powdered form), dissolved in butter milk or whey, if taken after lunch, cures diarrhea, piles and sprue
(extracted from:://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cumin127.html and http://www.urday.com/spice.html)