Cumin, pronounced "khu-min", Cuminum cyminum, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae. Other members of this family include anise, caraway, coriander, dill and fennel. In India, it is known as jeera. Cumin is extensively used in cuisines around the world, particularly in Southern Asia, Northern Africa and Latin America.
Cumin is native to China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, the eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Turkey. Today, cumin is also grown in Argentina, Iran and Mexico. Cumin seeds are oval shaped and elongated with a ridged surface. They are greenish yellow, grayish or light brown in color, and when ground, cumin is brownish yellow to dark brown in color.
When cumin is dry roasted it unleashes a more intense aroma. In Southern India, it is often roasted in ghee or oil.