Cumin is one of the
most typical spices of India. The fruits are used whole, and are often
fried or dry-roasted before usage. It is a small, slender annual herb,
with a much-branched angular or striated stem, bearing 2 or 3 partite
linear leaves, bluish green in color and having sheathing bases.
Cumin seeds are
yellowish brown in color having a strong, slightly bitter aromatic
flavor. The plants are threshed when the fruit is ripe and the 'seeds'
dried. The strong aromatic smell and warm taste of Cumin fruits are due
to the presence of a volatile oil. The aroma of the cumin seeds, like
most spices, emerges best when dry roasted or added to hot oil or Ghee.
The chief constituent
of the volatile oil is cumaldehyde. In indigenous medicine, cumin seeds
have long been considered stimulant and carminative. They are stomachic,
astringent and useful in diarrhea and dyspepsia. They are now chiefly
used in veterinary medicine. The seeds showed antifertility and
abortifacient activity in female rats. They have been credited with