Cumin is a very common spice in the world, indeed, in fact the term cumin indicates at least two different spices, one typically used in Asia and North Africa, derived from the fruits of the cuminum cyminum, which is the "true" cumin, the other, mainly used in northern Europe, obtained from the fruits of carum carvi, often called cumin.
Despite the two plants and their seeds are very similar, the aroma of the two spices is very different: the "real" cumin has a warm and earthy aroma, slightly spicy, while the cumin of the meadows has a sweeter and fresher aroma, with lemon and anise tones in the aftertaste.
The cumin is used whole or ground, mainly in meat and vegetable dishes, the cumin is mainly used whole, in particular it is added to bread, fish-based dishes, desserts and liqueurs.
The cumin plant
Whether it is carum carvi or cuminum cyminum, we are talking about two medium-large annuals, which can reach 70-80 cm in height; they are cultivated in well-worked soil, sowing them directly in spring, in a very sunny place.
They are plants widespread in nature even in Italy, in the wild, very similar to wild fennel and belonging to the family of the apiacee.
They produce thin, medium-branched stems, covered with a thin hair that makes them rough; the foliage is finely divided, and in the case of carvi it is very reminiscent of carrot leaves.
They produce large umbrella-shaped inflorescences, with small white or yellowish flowers.
In summer it is possible to pick the fruits, small dark achenes, with a semi-woody appearance, very aromatic.
Cumin and caraway are dried, and kept for months, or even years, even if the aroma gradually decreases.
Cumin is usually ground to give a light-colored, greenish-brown spice with a pungent and intense aroma.
Carvi instead, darker, is generally used whole, most of this spice can generally be found from the baker, in northern Europe, to decorate the loaves of rye or wholemeal bread.
Carum carvi is widely used in the preparation of bread, left whole, in the dough or over the forms; the kummel liqueur, with its strong anise aroma, is also prepared with this spice. Carvi is then used in roasts, stews, or even in fish dishes; if ground it finds space in dessert recipes, often mixed with other spices.
Cumin, on the other hand, is a spicy spice used in African, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine; it is also often added to curry; It is a fundamental ingredient for vegetable or meat salt that accompanies cus cus.
From the Middle East the cumin has entered directly into the Spanish and Portuguese cuisine, and from here it has reached the new world; today cumin is also a fundamental ingredient of Mexican and Central American cuisine in general.
It is often used together with chilli, because it increases the spicy aroma.