Cumin: Origin, Health Benefits & How It's Used

February 16, 2021

Cumin: Origin, Health Benefits & How It's Used

Cumin is one of the most popular spices that is commonly found in Latin American, Middle Eastern, North African, and Indian cuisines. We love this spice for it's warm earthy flavor that has a bit of both sweetness and bitterness to your meal. In this blog, we'll discuss the origin of this beloved spice, it's potential health benefits, and the ways to use cumin in your cooking.


Cumin is a spice made from the dried seed of a plant known as Cuminum cyminum, which is a member of the parsley family. It's an ancient spice grown in Egypt and the Middle East. In fact, it has been found in 4,000-year-old excavations in Syria and ancient Egypt used as both a cooking spice and for mummification purposes. Cumin also appears in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Since ancient times, cumin has been used in India and by the Greeks and Romans, making its way into  various cuisines all around the world. 

Whole Vs. Ground

Both whole and ground cumin are used in cooking. Whole seeds are often featured in Indian dishes, often added to hot oil at the beginning of cooking to infuse the oil and add flavor to the rest of the ingredients. Lightly roasted whole seeds over a pan will bring out the full cumin flavor.  Whole seeds can be kept in the freezer over a long period to maintain their flavor.

Ground cumin does not need heat or time for the flavor to be released. However, once the seeds are ground, the cumin will gradually lose its flavor over time and should be replaced regularly. Ground cumin should be stored in a cool, dark place and will last up to 6 months.

Health Benefits 

In India, Cumin seeds are often chewed as a digestive aid, typically offered at the end of a meal for this purpose. Cumin is also high in iron and contains many phytonutrients and antioxidants, as well. 

Cooking Uses 

Cooking with cumin will depend on whether the recipe calls for whole or ground cumin. As a rule of thumb, however, remember that whole cumin has a more potent flavor. So, if switching from whole to ground cumin and vice versa, be sure to portion correctly. 

Whole cumin seeds should be included early in the recipe in order for the spice to release its essence. Adding whole seeds to hot broth or oil will let the flavors disperse into the dish. Ground cumin is a more commonly used and is a staple in most curry powders and many spice blends. 

Recipes With Cumin

You can find cumin in both meat and vegetable dishes, soups, sauces and more. Below are a list of Colorado Spice inspired recipes that incorporate blends with cumin!

Coconut Curry Stew Recipe

Seeded Salmon Recipe

Adobado Fajita Recipe

Chang Mai Fish & Fowl Recipe

Vindaloo Curry Stir Fry Recipe

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