Cumin, also known as comino, is native to the Nile valley in Egypt. It is now cultivated in other hot regions of India, the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. Currently, more than 50% of all cumin comes from India.

Cumin is one of the most consumed spices right after chillies and peppercorns and is a key ingredient in garam masala, curry powder, most stews, soup, spiced gravies, pickles, etc. It can be used ground or as whole seed. During the Middle Ages, cumin was thought to keep lovers from fickleness and keep chickens from leaving their yard. The strong, earthy, slightly spicy flavor of cumin is available either freshly ground or as whole seeds. Use whole seeds in sausages, pickles, sauerkraut, soups and breads.

At most good French restaurants, mild cheeses are served with a little dish of cumin seeds and pepper. Roasting cumin seeds will bring out their full aromatic flavor. In Ayuverdic medicine, dried cumin seeds are used to help digestion, enhance appetite, vision, strenght and lactation.


Jeera Rice (Cumin Rice)
Serves 3/4

Adding Cumin when cooking plain rice can tempt the tastebuds. With its earthy and subtle spicey flavour, it can change a meal completely or can even be enjoyed as its own dish.

  • 1.5 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tsp cumin/jeerai
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee
  • some coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)
  • salt as required

  1. Soak the basmati rice in water for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice and keep aside.
  3. Heat a pan.
  4. Add oil or ghee.
  5. On a low or medium flame when the oil becomes hot, add the cumin and all the whole spices mentioned above.
  6. Let the cumin get browned and the oil fragrant from the spices.
  7. Add the soaked rice.
  8. Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add salt and water.
  10. Cover and cook the rice is cooked.
  11. The rice should get cooked but not mushy or pasty.
  12. Keep checking in between whilst the rice is cooking.
  13. When the jeera rice is done, fluff the rice and serve jeera rice hot.
  14. Garnish jeera rice with some coriander leaves before serving.