(Cuminum cyminum) is native to the eastern Mediterranean region. The seeds look like caraway but have a very different flavor. They are pungent and rather hot. The intense flavor is important in Indian, Middle Eastern cuisine, and Central America.
The health benefits are interesting. They include an aromatic, carminative. It is one of the best spices for strengthening digestion and improving the taste of food. It aids digestion by secreting digestive juices in the pancreas. It helps with pain and stomach discomfort. Cumin may also have anticancer properties by aiding in the protection against stomach or liver tumors. It has strong free-radical scavenging abilities. Vitamin B3, vitamin A, and zinc are in high levels in cumin.
When darkened by toasting it in a dry skillet, the seed releases its gentle smell, and the taste becomes even richer. It is used in rice dishes, bean dishes, soups, salads, curries, and even baked goods.