Most Of The World's Cumin Comes From This Country

What in the world would we do without spice? It's a question we hope never to answer. Spice, in and of itself, is a kind of gold mine. Through the years, different spices like black pepper have taken on names like "black gold" which exemplify just how revered spices were and are to people (via Sous Chef). The British Broadcasting Company reports that spice was one of the main motivators for globalization as well as colonization. Powerful rulers would spend obscene amounts of money and commit atrocious crimes just to sprinkle a little cinnamon atop their cake. One of the seasonings most beloved for its rich flavor and earthy spice is cumin.

Cumin was widely used in the ancient world and is still highly sought after now across borders and cultures. The spice is an essential ingredient to many things, including curry powder, chili powder, couscous, bahārāt, and chutney, according to Great American Spice. It is the second-most-used spice in the world after black pepper. Needless to say, people are obsessed with it, and we have India to thank for supplying most of the world with this treasure.

Cumin in India

Cumin has been essential to Indian cuisine as far back as anyone can remember, so it makes sense that the South Asian country grows its own product and most of the world's. According to a report made by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, India is the largest producer of cumin, harvesting 1,431,000 tons in 2020. India is then followed by Turkey, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates, though, according to the Word Integrated Trade Solution, the countries trailing behind India produce significantly less than the leading country.

India produces about 70% of the world's total cumin which is a lot of spice power, and with all that cumin comes a lot of land usage. The Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia's "Market Analysis of Cumin Seed" says that 800,000 hectares are dedicated to farming cumin. 

Additionally, India exports a significant amount of the stuff around the world. India sends their spice to 150 countries! But the country's biggest buyers are Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the United States.

What is cumin

So, now you know that everyone wants cumin and that India is the reigning champ when it comes to production, but what is this miraculous spice? According to Britannica, cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is a part of the parsley family like anise, dill, and coriander. The actual cumin we use in the culinary arts is a seed-like fruit and is considered a staple ingredient in recipes all around the world but especially in Asia, North Africa, and Latin America.

The Spice House says that cumin seeds can be used whole (though they must be toasted first), ground, and even turned into an oil to use in a dish. It works extremely well with foods such as curries, chutneys, rice dishes, stews, soups, bread, barbecue sauces, and much more. 

As for the health benefits that come with using this particular spice, Healthline says that while more research needs to be done, cumin seems to aid in digestion while boosting your immune system and circulation.

The history of cumin

Cumin is not some new mystery spice the world has discovered in the past few centuries. The seed is native to Asia Minor, its English name is even rooted in ancient Sumerian, and it has been recorded in ancient recipes dating back to 1,750 B.C. (via National Public Radio). Pacific Spice Company says that it was the Greeks and Romans that first began heavily buying the spice and using it obsessively in superstitious, religious, and political practices as well as in their dishes. As time went on, the spice remained popular in the Middle East and Asia, and now, the McCormick Science Institute says it is even cultivated in Mexico and is a common spice to find in the country's recipes.

According to MasterClass, these small seeds have a balance of bright and earthy flavors which makes them the perfect spice for the rich savory meals which are so prevalent throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Central America. It also pairs excellently with all kinds of rice due to its powerful flavor. Cumin is truly one of the kings of spice and should be widely appreciated and utilized for all its aspects.