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Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley fmaily. The cumin plant grows to about 1 to 2 feet tall and is harvest by hand. Cumin is a key component in both chili powder and curry powder. Ground Cumin is an aromatic spice with a distinctive bitter flavor and strong, warm aroma due to its abundant oil content. It is also described as having an earthy, pungent flavor and slightly smoky taste.
Throughout the world, cumin is second in popularity only to black pepper. Americans tend to use in mostly in chili, but its pungent flavor is a must in Indian, Mexican, Asian, North African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American cooking. It is gaining popularity here in America as various international dishes become more commonplace in our kitchens, and our tastes for Mexican foods increase, as both salsa and tacos are heavily seasoned with cumin. Ground Cumin can be substituted for whole seed cumin and the conversions are: 1 oz. = 4 tablespoons ground = 4 1/2 tablespoons whole seed.