The Zira (also known as cumin) is essential in many oriental recipes. These are small brownish seeds and spicy flavor. This exotic spice is increasingly popular for culinary and medicinal purposes.
The Zira is an Asian invasive
The Zira has spread from the Arabian peninsula to the west, southern Italy, and the east, India. The old plant is mentioned in the Bible and its fruit was used in Egypt and Rome. In Europe itself it was not fully understood what a spice was and where it should be added. The aromatizing did not root there, and in the fifteenth century it was practically forgotten.
The Zira has many names: cumin, Roman cumin, ajwain, cammun, black cumin and others. In the East, this spice is used throughout the world. The main supplier of the seeds is India. It produces 70% of the world volume, and most of the raw material is consumed by the Indians themselves. It is also cultivated in China, Turkey, Africa and Latin America, as well as in Tayikistan and the Caucasus.
Zira’s plant looks like a carrot or fennel. Its height is 40-50 cm. Its leaves, featheous and deeply dissected, alternate in straight and smooth stems. The root is strong, thick and cylindrical. Little flowers are quite discreet. Gathered in white, pink or red umbrellas, they attract bees very well.
Comino and Zira: What is the difference?
In biology it is distinguished between the herbs of the genus Cuminum (hence the word cumin) and those of the genus Bunium, which belongs to the family of the umbrellas. The yields of both genres can be bought in the market with the name of cumin. The darkest cumin varieties are also called “black cumin”, in contrast to the clearest cumin variety. The seeds are similar in shape, color and culinary properties. Without being carried away by the subtleties of flavor and differences in national kitchens, one might think that Zira and cumin are the same.
It is important to know the difference between the Zira and El Comino, whose fruits seem almost identical. Asian recipes cannot include cumin, very popular in central Europe. I would spoil the taste. The taste is determined experimentally rubbing a pair of seeds between the fingers. The scent of cumin is penetrating, fresh and citrus. The cumin smell is warmer, with a walnut nuance.
It is easier to remember the difference between cumin and dill. The latter’s seeds are flat and rounded compared to the narrow half moons of the Zira.
The benefits of the Zira
The Zira has a positive effect on the human body. The seeds are rich in essential oils (4%) and quite nutritious (375 kcal per 100 g). Many varieties of Zira are known: Kashmir, Iraní, Badakhshan (Black Pamir), Ajwain and others.
Essential oils of all varieties have a similar composition and contain
- Vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxin;
- Mineral elements: iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium;
- The valuable Timol substance.
The Zira has beneficial properties such as food additive and as a medication. Its high iron content improves the transmission of oxygen and metabolism. Magnesium intervenes in energy metabolism, protects against stress. Manganese is responsible for cholesterol levels, and calcium stabilizes the heart. The presence of Betacarotene makes the cumin an antioxidant, delays cell aging and stimulates the repair of the organism’s tissues.
Zira oil contains between 5 and 15% timol. It has pronounced antiseptic, healing and antihistamine properties. Timo l-based products disinfect the skin and treat throat pains.
Cummeno tea is the easiest way to use the medicinal plant. This tasty and aromatic drink is soothing and immunostimulant. Thanks to its diuretic effect, it is useful for swelling. Infusion is even useful in the treatment of a disease as complex as alcoholism.
The Zira is a plant with a high content of iodine salts. Therefore, its use is beneficial for the thyroid, it restores the internal balance of iodine.
Zira seed preparations are often used to treat the stomach:
- reduce swelling;
- Normalize digestion
- Relieve nausea;
- Improve appetite.
The Zira has no serious contraindications. Frequent consumption in large quantities can irritate stomach mucous membranes. Stomach acidity or even an acute ulcer may occur. They are also possible allergic reactions. Uncontrolled use can weaken power in men.
To lose weight
Dietitians are with good eyes the addition of spices to food. A cup of hot coffee with spices heats, vigorizes and lifts the mood. The spices give a healthy feeling of hunger, but also satisfy more quickly. In addition, they can replace salt. The cumin stimulates digestion and eliminates gases, which makes the stomach more flat. It is also included in diets due to their ability to quickly break down toxins and eliminate waste products.
For the women
Taking an essential oil helps balance the menstrual cycle. An infusion of cumin seeds with fennel or anise calms the nerves and improves sleep. During pregnancy, cumin tea is allowed in moderate amounts to strengthen the organism in general and favor breastfeeding. But abusing spice spices can accelerate delivery.
For older people
Many distrust the spice spices for the elderly, from the age of 50, so as not to endanger their health. These fears are unfounded. For example, it is shown that after a spicy meal the desire to eat something sweet or fatty decreases. Spices stimulate metabolic processes. This delays aging, loses weight and softens wrinkles. See your doctor on the correct way to take cumin.
How to grow cumin in your garden
In their homeland, all parts of the plant are used as food, while Europeans are mainly familiar with dry seeds. If you grow the plant at home, you can eat fresh herbs directly from the bed. The entire seeds bought in the market are taken to sow. Quality indicators are a strong fresh flavor and the absence of damage. To verify germination, seeds of different lots are sown in pots.
As a warm and southern plant, it prefers sunny, luminous and protected winds from the wind, with a loose and salty land. The seeds are sown under the plastic wrap in May, when the ground has heated at 10 ° C. Soak the seeds in water until they swell and then let them dry. The seeds are sown at a depth of 3 cm, with a separation between 45 cm rows.
The seedlings will sprout in 2-3 weeks. They are tolerant of frost and the temperature should not drop from 16-24 ° C from then on. In the first phase, the seedlings will have to be entitled and water them abundantly, but, in general, the Zira does not require complex care.
The crop is ready for harvest at the beginning of autumn. The collection begins when 60-70% of the fruits are brown. If the plant is expected to be completely mature, the first seeds will have already crumbled on the ground. The plants must be cut, dry under a tent and then thunder.
The Zira can also be grown in a window of a window in a large pot or in a gardener. The best choice is an annual variety. Biennial or perennial varieties only produce fruits in their second year. Although you do not get seeds, you can cut the green and fragrant leaves of the plants and use them in a salad or soup.
How to keep
Store the field harvest in linen bags in a cool and dry place. Buy the spice and keep it in grains, moving them in a mill when necessary. It is not convenient to leave the product in its container purchased in the store. Place it in a jar with hermetic lid and put it in the refrigerator. Thus the original aroma is better preserved and other foods are filtered and permeated. Whole seeds can be kept more than a year in a hermetic container.
The ground zira quickly loses its delicate flavor and becomes soda and less intense. It is better not to keep it for more than a month. Therefore, the Zira should be grinding just before using it. For prolonged storage, it is better to seal the dust and put it in the freezer.
Where to add the cumin
All chefs know what the main function of the Zira is: without it you cannot prepare a perfect Uzbeko pilaf. The Zira is also used in other Asian national dishes: Cuscous, Chili with flesh and hummus. The Zira provides a very strong spicy aroma, slightly to nut, and a peculiar burning flavor, so it is added in small quantities.
But true lovers of the authentic Indian cuisine believe that there can be no overabundance of spices, and throw them into food as much as they want. At the same time, they crush the seeds in a mortar or fried them in a pan, and thus its flavor opens more. According to Europeans, the result is simply chilling.
The Zira is an excellent accompaniment of lamb and veal stews, rich soups, vegetarian vegetarian dishes with chicken or fish pieces. It is easy to remember when you should add to the stew. The closer to the end of cooking, the better the nutrients will be preserved and the more fragrant the fragrance will be.
Here are other dishes to which cumin adds, ground or whole:
- Adobos for Kebabs;
- canned vegetables;
- Indian Masala tea.
The cumin not only opens the appetite, but also improves the perception of the taste of food.
How to replace the cumin
The cumin combines well with other spices. In its dry form, it is part of the popular Garam Masala and the mixtures of Curry. Create a pleasant contrast to Agrio Agracejo in a Pilaf. If it is cumin with onion and garlic and crushed nuts are added, a delicate spicy paste is obtained. Intense Ajwain combines well with black pepper, oregano and basil. And together with cinnamon and fennel, it is used in jams and other sweets.
In culinary practice it is sometimes necessary to find a substitute for Zira. It is not the most common spice and may not be available at the right time. There are no direct equivalents, but you can create an interesting spice composition:
These spices combine well and create a characteristic aromatic bouquet complex of Asian national cuisine.
Surge mention deserves turmeric. This delicate sweet and spicy aroma dust color bright yellow foods because it contains the curcumin substance. The similar name suggests that curcumin is not very different from cumin. But they are different spices, although both ingredients are mixed often.
Be careful when it is recommended to replace the cumin with cumin, fennel or dill. It is as if there was no difference, but only until the food begins to cook. The smell of cumin has a completely different character and in the oriental cuisine this plant is almost never used. Of course, in extreme cases it is allowed to use atypical condiments, but add them little by little so as not to obtain a totally unexpected result.