julySpicy Secret Series #3: Cumin |  by: July Westhale

Are you familiar with cumin? Maybe you’ve tried Indian food? Cumin is commonly used in daals, beans, curries, and soups-this spice is a powerhouse of complex flavor. With both sweet undertones and just the slightest hint of smoke, cumin’s warm aroma can lure anyone to the table.

As it turns out, cumin’s undeniably irresistible nature goes even deeper than sensory engagement. A spice with a 5,000 year old history, it has been used for everything from medicine to skin care to part of the mummification process. Often associated with dishes from Vietnam, Mexico, and India, it was also kept in small bowls on many tables in Ancient Greece, should the need arise for additional flavor. In Biblical times, cumin was so valuable, it was often used in place of currency. This distant cousin of the parsley plant is a spice that brings a lot to the table, both in flavor and reputation. But what is all of this about medicinal properties?

cumin powder
cumin powder

If you follow Rebecca Katz at all, or if you are a person who has been involved in nutritional care taking for folks undergoing cancer treatment, you’ll know that spices and herbs are heavily used as culinary medical tools to promote healthy immune systems and stimulate physical response. Cumin is no exception. With unparalleled concentrations of cancer-fighting compounds (as well as heavy longevity benefits), cumin is lauded as one of the best spices for folks undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

cumin flowers
gorgeous cumin flowers!

Why, you ask? Let’s take a look!

Cumin is used as an appetite stimulant, a digestion aid, antimicrobial, and more! Though it’s been used as culinary medicine for thousands of years by other cultures, in Western medicine, the effects of cumin as a cancer-busting compound are just beginning to make a big splash in the laboratories. When whole seeds are used, they can help slow down the growth of tumors in the stomach and cervix. When they are toasted, they can be used to relieve minor abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, stomach aches, and indigestion. This is fabulous news for folks who suffer from chronic stomach upset, such as those with Crohn’s, IBS, or Endometriosis. When used appropriately, cumin has the ability to bring reluctant eaters back to the table, able to take a few bites of a dish and receive the strong nutrients they need.

cumin seeds

Even if you are not a person suffering from chronic illness, cumin can be a life-altering spice for you to add to your diet. Not only can it stave off the formation of cancer, but it also functions as an anti-inflammatory (as well as an antispasmodic), and an antimicrobial, all of which help keep your immune system healthy, robust, as well as regulating your PH levels.

Aside from the historical and medical significance of cumin, it is primarily a spice that engages the entire sensory self; with the warm aroma of wood and curry, dishes that contain cumin bring to mind richness, sustenance, comfort, and abundance, and of course, keeps lovers from being unfaithful. ha!

What is a dish have you had with cumin in it? Share in the comments section below, what your favorite dish is with cumin.  How could you use it in a meal this week?!



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