Probably originating in southwestern Asia, this plant has been native
to the region from the eastern Mediterranean to eastern India since
prehistoric times. This is one of the most important spices in Indian
cuisine, generally combined 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon coriander seed.
Black Cumin - [Kala Jeera, Shahi Jeera (India); Zireh Kuhi (Persia); Siyoh Dona (Tajiki), Bunium persicum alt? B. bulbocastanum]
Fruits of this plant are used in the cuisines of northern India,
Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Persia - and are all but unknown outside that
region, though the plant grows wild as far as southeastern Europe. The
leaves can be used as is parsley and the roots cooked, said to taste
like sweet chestnuts, but only the fruits are available in North America.
Caution: This spice is not to be confused with
Nigella, often also called "Black Cumin". This is not an English
translation error, nigella is actually called "black cumin" in Bengal,
where many of the early Indian immigrants came from (most of Bengal is
now Bangladesh). Visually, they are easy to tell apart - nigella seeds
are tiny and not elongated.
More on Parsleys
Dry Roasting: In the Indian cuisines, and to a lesser extent in Africa and the Middle East, cumin (and other) seeds are dry roasted in a metal pan until they are very fragrant and darkening just slightly. Keep shaking the pan for even heating and do not let them become hot enough to smoke.