Cumin (Cuminum cyminum, pronounced /ˈkjuːmɨn/ or UK: /ˈkʌmɨn/, US: /ˈkuːmɨn/, and sometimes spelled cummin) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to East India.
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30–50 cm (0.98–1.6 ft) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an herbaceous annual plant, with a slender branched stem 20–30 cm tall. The leaves are 5–10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color, like other members of the Umbelliferae family such as caraway, parsley and dill.
Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper. Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, northern Mexican cuisines, central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Texan or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It is traditionally used in Indian, Middle-Eastern, Spanish, Italian, Cuban and Tex-Mex cuisine (though infrequently in Mexico). Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It helps to add an earthy and warming feeling to cooking, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as curries and chilli.