Cumin in our A-Z - Cooking Index
Cumin is a spice which has a strongly aromatic taste when ground and is used widely in Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, north African, middle Eastern and eastern European cuisines. It adds both aroma and a warmth (spicy) to dishes.
It is a key ingredient in garam masala.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, part of the parsley family. Traditionally Iran is the best place to obtain cumin from but political events have helped limit supplies and you are more likely to buy cumin from India, Turkey or Pakistan.
Do not store ground cumin for too long as it swiftly loses its flavor. Ideally buy cumin seeds, toast them on a dry skillet/pan very briefly and then grind them yourself (in a pestle or with a spice grinder).
Europeans and Americans pronounce 'cumin' in very different ways; Americans pronounce it softly as 'cummmin' and Europeans as "CU-min", leading to lots of shopping difficulties for culinary visitors. In India cumin is called jeera.