Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum L) is a plant that belongs to the family Umbelliferae and the Genus Cuminum. The plant grows throughout Europe and parts of North Africa. It has also been reported in several parts of South West Asia and in the Middle East (such as Persia, Egypt, Arabia, etc) (Boskabady, 2005) (Journal a day, 2003). It is commonly seen in Gilgit and Baltic regions. The plant tends to grow well in the wild. It is edible and is frequently utilised in medicines. In parts of the world, Cumin is locally known as ‘Hayyo’.
Cumin is popularly known as ‘Cumin seeds’ as the seeds are utilised. The plant tends to flower during the period May to July of every year; and during the months of May to October, fresh leaves tend to form on the plant. Cumin was utilized during the middle ages as a flavouring agent for foods (Journal a day, 2003). Some of the essential oils contained in the seeds of Cummins include Cuminol, Cymine, Hellandren, Carvone, cuminique alcohol, etc. Cumin can be utilised in the treatment of several digestive, gynaecological, breathing and other disorders.
Traditionally, it has been utilised in Unani or Persian medicine for the treatment of several conditions (Plants for the Future, 2003). Cumin is very beneficial for the diet as it contains significant quantities of iron and manganese. It is not know to cause any significant adverse-effect when consumed in the diet. A total of 19 different types of oils have been identified in cumin, and using chemometric techniques a further 30 components were identified (Heravi, 2007 & Salma, 2002). Gas chromatography is frequently utilized to examine the various components of cumin (Heravi, 2007, Journal a day, 2003, Boskabady, 2005).
Description Cumin is actually a slender herb that grows to a height of 13 to 15 cms. Cumin tends to grow annually to a height of about 0. 2 to 0. 3 meters (Journal a day, 2003). The flowers of Cumin tend to have both the female and the male sex organs (hermaphrodite). Cumin plant grows well in sandy and loamy soils, with well-drained ground required. Cumin grows well in all types of soils such as acidic, alkali and neutral (Journal a day, 2003). Cumin requires sunlight for growth and also needs to soil to be moist.
Each leaf of Cumin is long and slender and is divided into several segments. Each flower contains about 4 to 6 umbels and is small coloured white or rose (Journal a day, 2003). The seeds of the Cumin appear in the form of an oval or an oblong. The seeds are somewhat similar to Caraway, but are lighter in colour and have a rough surface (Plants for the Future, 2003). As Cumin prefers moist soils, it is frequently seen growing by the side of lakes, streams, rivers, swamps, etc. Cumin has been cultivated as a crop for more than 2 millenniums (Plants for the Future, 2003).
The Romans seemed to encourage the growth of cumin and utilised in their diet as a flavouring agent (Heravi, 2007, Journal a day, 2003, Boskabady, 2005). Cumin is considered to produce fruit on an annual basis. It is grown especially in the temperate and the tropical regions of the world. The seed of Cumin is usually consumed for cooking. Once the plant flowers, it takes three to four months for it to flower. Damaged Cumin plants tend to produce a pungent odour. Cumin is also grown in individual pots placed in greenhouses. Once they reach a particular height, they should be planted out, but after the frost season.
During the initially growth period, protection from direct sunlight should be given (Journal a day, 2003, Boskabady, 2005). A variant of cumin is the Black cumin which is found in parts of Kashmir and Iran. In several of the Indian curries, Black cumin may be preferred to the regular cumin (Katzer, 2006). Chemistry The amount of volatile aromatic oil present in cumin seeds is about 5 %. Some of the other substances that are present in the seeds include fats, free amino acids, flavonoid glycosides, apigenin and luteolin derivatives, etc.
The aldehyde content in the cumin oil is about 60 %, but varies significantly from fresh seeds to the dried seeds. When the seeds are fine ground, they can lose a significant portion of the vital oils, thus reducing the beneficial effects of cumin (Lacobellis et al, 2005). Cumin fruit contains about 2. 5 to 5 % of essential oils. Some of the essential oils include:- · Cumin aldehyde or p-isopropyl-benzaldehyde – 25 to 35% (Boskabady, 2005) · perilla aldehyde (Boskabady, 2005) · Cumin alcohol (Boskabady, 2005) · Alpha-pinene & beta-pinene – 21 %