Spices play an important role in making a dish more flavorful. Indian cuisine is especially known to have some of the healthiest traditional spices as its main ingredients.
Cumin is one such spice that forms an integral part of various dishes in the Indian cuisine. Cumin or ‘Jeera’ in Hindi, ‘Jilakara‘ in Telugu, ‘Jeeragam‘ in Tamil, ‘Jeerakam‘ in Malayalam, ‘Jeerige‘ in Kannada, ‘Jeeru‘ in Gujarati, ‘Jeere‘ in Marathi and ‘Jeerey‘ in Bengali is basically a tiny seed of an annual plant in the parsley family, native to the Mediterranean (1). A typical cumin seed has a striped pattern of nine ridges and oil canals. It is brownish in colour and oblong shaped, tapering at each extremity with tiny stalks attached. Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds in appearance. However, they are lighter in colour, hotter to taste, larger in size and unlike caraway, have minute bristles that are hardly visible to the naked eye.
Cumin Seeds – The Delightful Spice!
The warm and bitter flavor of this aromatic spice as well as its abundant oil content make it usable in Indian, Mexican, North African, Middle Eastern and western Chinese cuisines. In India, cumin seeds are an important component of curry powder and “garam masala”. They are generally fried or roasted before usage. Cumin seeds are generally available dried or ground to a brownish-green powder.
Cumin seeds are generally available in three colours- amber, white and black. The amber seeds are the most common. The black ones have a complex flavor and cannot be substituted for the other two. Black cumin seeds or nigella are different from cumin seeds though both are similar in appearance. Known as “kalonji” in northern India and ‘kaalo jeere’ in Bengal, they have a pungent, powerful, sharp and slightly bitter flavor and a spicy-sweet aroma. They have a thin crescent shape.
19 Amazing Benefits Of Jeera/Cumin:
Besides its culinary uses, this aromatic spice is known for its medicinal properties since ancient times. Being an excellent source of iron, it aids in digestion, boosts the immune system and has anti-carcinogenic properties.
Black cumin seeds contain about 100 chemical compounds including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and fatty acids. They are known for their healing qualities. The Islam culture believes that these can heal any type of disease except death while in Bible they are referred to as the curative black seeds. Thus, this spice has a rich history and was particularly favored by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In ancient times, it was even used as a method for payment of taxes and debts.
Skin Benefits Of Cumin:
As stated earlier, this aromatic spice is renowned for its medicinal value and health benefits. Hence, it can be beneficial to your skin as well. Some of the cumin or jeera benefits in skincare are as follows.
1. Treatment of Boils:
Boils are outlet for the elimination of toxic substances and foreign matters such as microbes etc. Occurrence of boils indicates the accumulation of toxic substances in the body. Regular usage of cumin in your food helps in keeping your skin free from boils, rashes, pimples etc. This is because it has components such as Cuminaldehyde (2), Thymol and phosphorus which are good detoxifying agents. They help in facilitating regular removal of toxins from the body through the excretory system and not through boils.
If you are suffering from acne or boils, you can try applying vinegar with ground cumin seeds.
[ Read: Ayurvedic Treatment for Boils ]
2. Treatment of Skin Disorders:
Cumin has a high content of vitamin E which keeps your skin healthy and glowing. Besides, the essential oils, cumin have disinfectant and anti-fungal properties which protect your skin from fungal and microbial infections. Topical application of cumin paste on boils, pimples, eczema, psoriasis and other skin disorders facilitates quick healing (3). A dash of ground cumin powder can also be added to your face pack to treat skin issues. Cumin is also a good source of dietary fiber which helps in the cleaning process and removes toxins.
3. Anti-Ageing Benefits:
Vitamin E present in cumin triggers the anti-ageing processes within the body, thus preventing pre mature ageing symptoms. It acts as an antioxidant to combat the free radicals that attack the skin and cause signs of ageing like wrinkles, age spots and sagging skin. This combination of antioxidant effect and antibacterial capacity of cumin provides you with a healthy, beautiful skin that lasts far into your old age (4).
[ Read: Simple Homemade Tips For Anti Ageing ]
4. Cures Itchiness and Body Heat:
If you are suffering from body heat and skin itchiness, you can put some cumin seeds in boiled water. Once it is cooled, take a bath with that water (5).