Showing posts with label spice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spice. Show all posts

Oct 22, 2018

Ingredients: Allspice, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,                 

Allspice is the dried, unripened berry of an evergreen tree native to the rainforests of South and Central America. Allspice is named for its complex flavor resembling cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, juniper berries, and nutmeg. It compliments a variety of foods, and is commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes. 

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,

Allspice was encountered by Christopher Columbus on the island of Jamaica during his second voyage to the New World and named by the ship's physician, Diego Álvarez Chanca. Unfortunately, the Spanish doctor mistook the fruit for black peppercorns, which the Castilian Spanish called pimienta. (This is especially confusing since the Spanish already had red heart-shaped called chilies pimientos. This is why allspice is still called pimento in Jamaica today. The reference to pepper remains in other languages. In English allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper, clove pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, and piment. Because most allspice sold in Europe came through British colonial possessions in Jamaica it was often called "English pepper" in western languages. In German allspice became Neu­gewürz and Czech nové koření meaning "new spice" referring to its origin from the New World.

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,
Mature allspice trees (Pimenta dioica) in San Cristobal, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
Allspice trees (Pimenta dioica) are tropical evergreens that reach an average height of 25 feet (7.6m). Related to the myrtle family, their dark green glossy leaves are up to 5 inches (15cm) in length. Allspice trees begin to bear fruit at 7 to 8 years of age and reach maximum production at 15 to 20 years of age. The plant can be grown outdoors in the tropics and subtropics with normal garden soil and watering. It also adapts well to container culture and can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse.

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,
Flowers of (Pimenta dioica)
The small and fragrant white flowers of the allspice tree begin appearing in mid-summer followed by green berries that turn purple when ripe. The berries are picked when they have reached full size, but before fully ripening. Hand picking or pulling off branches is still the common way to harvest the berries as the trees are too tall for mechanization. Traditionally, the unripe berries are then dried in the sun. When fully dried, the fruits are wrinkled, dark brown, and resemble peppercorns. The leaves and wood of the allspice tree are also used throughout the Caribbean in food preparation. The leaves are milder in flavor than the berries and are employed in marinades and stuffing for meats. Allspice wood is used as fragrant fuel for traditional barbecues.

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,
Allspice berries (Pimenta dioica)
Allspice is the only important spice grown exclusively in the New World. It was thought at one time that allspice would only grow in Jamaica, where the plant is readily spread by birds. Eventually, it was found that passage through an avian gut was required to germinate the seeds. 


allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,
Allspice seedlings from seeds scattered by birds.
Allspice plantations are called "pimento walks." The seedlings germinated randomly from bird droppings are thinned to about 30 feet (10 meters) apart to allow the trees to grow into a high canopy of branches. It is said to be quite the olfactory experience to stroll under the fragrant canopy in Summer when the trees are covered with fragrant flowers.  In 1755, botanist Patrick Browne wrote of a pimento walk: 

 “Nothing can be more delicious than the odour of these walks when the trees are in bloom, as well as other times; the friction of the leaves and the small branches even in a gentle breeze diffusing a most exhilarating scent.”

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,

Allspice was used by South American Indians to flavor chocolate. preserve meat, and embalm corpses. The Indians of the Caribbean cured meat with allspice and smoke on a wooden rack called a "boucan." Europeans who cured meat in this manner came to be known as boucaniers, which eventually became anglicized to "buccaneers."

Eugenol 2-Methoxy-4-(prop-2-en-1-yl)phenol
Jamaica!

The flavor of allspice is due to the presence of eugenol, methyl eugenol, and terpenes. These compounds are also dominant in cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Allspice berries from Jamaica are unique in having eugenol as their main constituent making them the best in quality. Allspice berries from México are dominated by methyl eugenol and are considered inferior.


Allspice is the most important spice in the cuisines of the Caribbean. In Jamaican jerk pastes and rubs for meat, allspice is the key ingredient complimenting black pepper, hot chiles, cinnamon leaves, garlic, and lime juice or vinegar. Jamaican curry powder, soups, and stews are also flavored with allspice. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur is produced under the name "pimento dram." Allspice is utilized in the famous mole sauces of Central México and often also for the recado rojo spice paste of Yucatán.
Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine. Across the Levant, it is used to flavor a variety of stews, kebabs, rice and meat dishes. In Arab cuisine, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavoring. Allspice also features in the Ethiopian and Eritrean spice mixture Berbere. Nutmeg has been declared haraam due to its potential as an intoxicant. (Ingesting over 15 grams of nutmeg can lead to hallucinations as well as nausea, gagging, hot/cold sensations, blurred vision, numbness, double vision, headache, drowsiness, nystagmus, muscle weakness, and ataxia.) I'd recommend using an equal amount of allspice as a halal substitute for nutmeg.


Despite its aromatic fragrance and flavor resembling other more coveted spices, allspice never had the same appeal in Europe as cinnamon, ginger, or black pepper. The British like allspice in stews, sauces, desserts, and for pickled vegetables. Allspice makes an appearance in traditional Ukranian borscht. The Scandinavians and Poles use it to flavor meats, game dishes, sauerkraut, pickles, and pickled herring. Allspice berries also appear in the somewhat antiquated French spice mixture quatre épices. It is also used in French herbal liqueurs, notably Bénédictine and Chartreuse. Americans will recognize allspice as the flavoring in pumpkin pie.


Allspice is largely absent from Asia, perhaps it never caught on due to the abundance of locally grown spices. I've seen allspice trees growing in South India but have never seen the berries or spice for sale.  Allspice leaves are used as a biryani flavoring in the Western Ghats replacing the tej patta or cassia tree leaves used in northern India. Some Bengali chefs use allspice as a spice-rub ingredient for what is called kabab chini or "Chinese kebabs."

allspice, jamaica, pepper, history, Jamaica Pepper, Clove Pepper, Myrtle Pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, spice, uses, culinary,

When cooking with allspice, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Usually, only an eighth or a quarter teaspoonful is all that is needed to flavor a dish. If you don’t have allspice on hand, you can substitute one teaspoon of allspice with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Whole dried allspice will keep up to when stored in an airtight  container away from direct sunlight. Once ground, allspice can quickly lose its pungency. If using a grinder with plastic parts, be aware that the oils in allspice can cloud plastic.
Fun Fact: In the Napoleonic war of 1812, Russian soldiers put allspice in their boots to keep their feet warm. The resulting improvement in odor was duly noted and has carried over into modern masculine perfumery. Even today you will see pimento or allspice oil associated with men’s toiletries.

That's all I know about allspice!
I want an allspice tree! I am curious as to what their flowers smell like.
 (So many plants, so little time. Sigh)
Do you have a favorite recipe with allspice in it?
Ciao for now,
Bibi

May 21, 2018

Ingredients: Sesame Seeds, Til, Tal, Tillu, Teel, Gingelly, Gingili, Gingilli, Semsem, Simsim


Sesame seeds are believed to be the world's oldest condiment, and one of the first recorded plants used for its seeds. For thousands of years, sesame seeds have been an integral part of the cuisines of northern Africa, the Middle East, and across Asia. Even today, sesame seeds are used worldwide for  nutritional, medicinal, and industrial purposes.



Archaeological findings suggest sesame was first domesticated in the Indian subcontinent around 5,500 years ago. Sesame was cultivated during the Indus valley civilization where it was the main oil crop. Sesame oil was probably exported to Mesopotamia as early as 2500 BC. The genus Sesamum has many species, most are wild and found in northern Africa. Sesamum indicum is the cultivated variety that originated in India. Sesame seeds are such a part of India's history that they are revered by Hindus as droplets of Lord Vishnu's sweat.  The domestication of sesame was favored by its ability to grow in areas that do not support the growth of other crops. It is a robust crop that needs little tending. The sesame plant will tolerate high heat and drought conditions or excessive rain and moisture. Its hardy nature allows subsistence farmers to plant it along the edge of deserts and other marginally arable areas where no other crops will grow.

Scheherazade probably saying "Open al-juljulan!" not "Open sesame!"
The etymology of the words used for sesame seeds is just as ancient and interesting as the plant.  In India, where sesame has been cultivated since the Harappan period, the words for sesame derive from the Sanskrit root tila (तिल.) Therefore you hear sesame called til in Nepali, Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi and Urdu. In Gujurati sesame is called tal and in Telegu tillu. The English word sesame is derived from the Greek sesamon which appears to be a borrowed word from ancient Akkadia. European words for sesame like ajonjolí in Spanish, gergelim in Portuguese, ġulġlien in Maltese, and the now archaic English word gingelly are derived from the Arabic al-juljulan (الجلجلان). In the American South, you will hear sesame seeds referred to as benniseed or benne seeds. This is because benne is the word for sesame seeds in the Bantu dialect of the West African slaves brought to the United States.

Flowering sesame plant
Sesame plants are actually quite beautiful. They have attractive dark-green leaves and tubular flowers similar to foxgloves that can be white or pale pink. Mature plants can grow 3 to 6 feet tall depending on the variety. The seeds are collected from the dried seed pods at the end of the growing season.

Immature sesame pods
Seeds are ready for harvest when the pods turn brown and begin to crack open slightly. The seed pods at the bottom of the plant will often be ready to harvest while the flowers toward the top of the plant are still in bloom, necessitating multiple harvests toward the end of the growing season.

Dry, ripened, & dehisced sesame pods
The sesame pod or capsule only explodes open when the seeds are completely ripe in a process called dehiscence. Dehiscence time tends to vary, so farmers cut plants by hand and place them together in an upright position to continue ripening until all the pods have opened. The dried stalks can also be used as cooking fuel. I have read that before World War I about 30% of American households used sesame oil as their primary vegetable oil for cooking. Unfortunately, the intense manual labor required to harvest sesame seeds became its downfall in most western countries. Today, the American fast-food chain McDonald buys 75% of Mexico's sesame seed crop to top it's hamburger buns.

Bundles of sesame plants cut by hand to dry, note the pods still on the dry plants.
Since sesame has such tiny, flat, and compact seeds, it is difficult to dry after harvest. The small size and shape of the seed makes the movement of air around the seed difficult. The seeds need to be harvested when as dry as possible and stored at 6% moisture or less. If the seed is too moist, fermentation and rot can begin.

Unhulled sesame seeds on the left and hulled sesame seeds on the right
After harvesting, the sesame seeds are normally cleaned and hulled. Hulling the seeds makes them less prone to going rancid and results in a less bitter flavor profile. In some countries, they are passed through an electronic sorting machine that rejects any discolored seeds to ensure perfect color. This is done because sesame seeds with consistent appearance are perceived as better quality, and sell for a higher price. Immature, discolored or off-sized seeds are removed and used for sesame oil production.


Sesame seeds occur in many colors depending on the cultivar. The most preferred variety of sesame is an off-white color. Other common colours are buff, tan, gold, brown, reddish, gray, and black. The color is the same for the hull and the fruit.

Sesamol- natural antioxidant found in sesame oil
Sesame seeds are composed of 5% water, 23% carbohydrates, 12% dietary fiber, 50% to 60% fat, and 15% to 18% protein. Whole sesame seeds are also rich in several B vitamins, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. Sesame oil has significant resistance against oxidation as a result of containing endogenous antioxidants including lignins and tocopherols. This combination of powerful natural antioxidants and lack of triple unsaturated fats give sesame oil a long shelf life. The byproduct or sesame seed meal that remains after oil extraction is so rich in protein (35-50%) that it can be used as feed for livestock.

Sesame & peanut chikki

Sesame seeds and oil are used extensively in India. Currently, India remains the world's second largest producer of sesame oil and seeds. Nearly every region of India has a unique sweet made of sesame seeds mixed with melted sugar. The candies are made into balls, bars, or clusters and have a delightful crunch similar to peanut brittle. Chikki is a popular treat all over India made of melted jaggery and various nuts and seeds or puffed rice as a flat bar. Sesame chikki is called til ki chikki in Hindi. In Assam, black sesame seeds are used to make ball-shaped  treats called til pitha and tilor laru during the festival of bihu. In northern and southern India sweet sesame balls called pindi in Urdu, ell urundai in Tamil, ellunda in Malayalam are eaten during the festival of Makar Sankranti and at weddings.

South Indian dry chutney called podi

In the cuisines of the southern Indian regions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala sesame oil and seeds are used extensively. A powdered chutney called podi made of ground sesame seeds, urad dal, chickpea, dry chilis is often served as a condiment with idli and dosa. After serving the podi is mixed with a little sesame oil to make a paste to be used as a dipping sauce. I've also seen sesame seeds dry roasted and ground to make gravy for curries in South India.

Traditional sweet Nepali dumpling called yomari

Nepalis use sesame seeds in a variety of savory vegetable chutneys, potato dishes, sweet laddoos, and a sweet dumpling called yomari. As with most Nepali sweets, yomari are only made and eaten for special holidays such as Purnima or Yomari Punhi. The steamed dumpling is made out of rice flour dough shaped like a fish and filled with a mixture of sesame seeds and chaku. (Chaku is jaggery or raw sugar that's been cooked down to an almost molasses-like dark caramel. ) The rich and sugary filling of yomari is quite the delicious contrast to the tender rice dough shell. I've only seen Nepalis using sesame oil for shallow or deep frying traditional sweets and samosas. They like to use sesame oil diluted in a ratio of 1:3 with a flavorless oil like sunflower seed or soy oil just like the Japanese do for frying tempura.


For culinary use, sesame oil is available in light and dark versions. The pale yellow or golden oil is pressed from raw sesame seeds resulting in a high smoke point and is thus suitable for use as a frying oil. Light sesame oil has a mild, nutty flavor. The dark amber or brown oil is pressed from sesame seeds that have been roasted and has a rich, aromatic flavor. Dark sesame oil also has a  lower smoke point and is unsuitable for deep-frying, it can be used for stir-frying of meats and vegetables or to cook omelets. East Asian cuisines often use roasted sesame oil for seasoning or as a condiment.

I just went and bought a kilo bag of sesame seeds for about $2 USD. I'm all jazzed to try my hand at making all sorts of sesame treats for Iftar this Ramadan from tahini to laddoos! How about you?


Ramadan Mubarak!

Apr 17, 2017

Ingredients: Radhuni, Ajmod, Wild Celery Seed


Radhuni, ajmod, or wild celery is a spice unique to the cuisine of Bengal. The dried fruits or seeds closely resemble ajwain, caraway, and celery seeds in both appearance and flavor. In Bengali cuisine the seeds are used whole and quickly fried in very hot oil to mellow their sharp taste. Radhuni is also used in the traditional Bengali five spice mixture called panch phoron.


The botanical names for the radhuni plant are Carum roxburghianum and Trachyspermum roxburghianum.  In Hindi the plant is called ajmod and in English it is also known as wild celery. The plant is a multi-branched flowering annual in the family Apiaceae and is related to ajwain and parsley.  It is grown extensively as a fresh herb in the South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia and reaches up to three feet in height. 


The fresh leaves of radhuni are used as an aromatic herb in Thailand and it is used medicinally in Myanmar. It is also known as kant-balu in Burmese, and phak chi lom in Thai. Young plants are harvested and consumed as s side salad or added to soup in Thailand, Viet Nam, and Myanmar. I've seen similar plants sold as a fresh herb here at markets in Nepal in the early Fall. I just thought they were lovage.


Radhuni is grown from seeds in small scale and multiple crops during rainy season. The plant or fresh herb looks like a cross between parsley, lovage, and celery. It prefers well drained soil that is calcium rich, a temperate climate, and partial sun.



The small dried fruits of the herb are commonly referred to as seeds. These seeds are utilized as the spice called radhuni in Bengali cuisine. They have a rather sharp, metallic parsley scent when raw. When fried in hot oil they mellow into a celery-like flavor. It is a very strong spice and more than couple of pinches can easily overpower a dish. After tempering the whole radhuni seeds are used to flavor pickles, chutneys, fish dishes, meat dishes, and dal.


The most common usage of radhuni in Bengali cuisine is in the famed five spice mixture called panch phoron. Panch means five and phoron means spice or flavor. The other ingredients in this blend are equal parts of cumin seed, fenugreek seed, fennel seed, and kalonji. Unlike most spice mixes, panch phoron is always used whole and never ground.


Panch phoron releases its aroma when the seeds are fried in hot oil or ghee. This tempering technique is called baghaar or chaunk and mellows the harsh flavors of the raw spices.  After tempering, other ingredients are added to the fried spices to be coated or infused with the mixture. Traditionally, panch phoron is used with vegetables, chicken or beef curry, fish, lentils, pickles, and a unique vegetable dish called shukto.


If you are unable to find radhuni where you're at a good substitute would be celery seed. Celery seed's grassy, savory, earthy, slightly bitter flavor is quite similar to radhuni. This only difference I can discern between celery seed and radhuni is a bit of a lemony note.

Calmly currying on,
Bibi

Feb 27, 2017

Ingredients: Cumin, Jeera, Zeera, Zira, Jira ko Geda, Zyur, Safed Jeera, Jeeragam, Jikaka

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,

Cumin is one of those spices that is absolutely essential in stocking any spice cupboard. It's warm, earthy, and smoky flavor works especially well in combination with chilis, cinnamon, and coriander. Cumin is native to southwest Asia and has made its way into cuisines around the world through the spice trade. It's a hallmark flavor in North African, Indian, Latin American, Spanish, Portuguese, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

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Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) was originally cultivated in the Mediterranean region and is a member of the parsley family. It is an annual herbaceous plant with slender, branched stems that grows to 8–12 inches tall. It's tiny white or pink flowers are borne in small compound umbels. The seeds come in paired or separate carpels and are 1/8-1/4 inches long bearing a striped pattern of nine ridges. The seeds do greatly resemble caraway seeds, but are lighter in color and have minute bristles barely visible to the naked eye.

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Cumin is a drought-tolerant, tropical, or subtropical crop with a growth season of 100 to 120 days. The main producer and consumer of cumin is India. Cumin is sown in India from October until the beginning of December, and harvesting by hand starts in February. Sandy, loamy soils with good aeration, proper drainage, slightly alkaline pH, and high oxygen availability are necessary for the optimal growth of cumin. The plant tends to droop under its own weight and so is planted closely together for support.

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Field of cumin in the Indian state of Gujarat
The main producer and consumer of cumin is India. Cumin is sown in India from October until the beginning of December and harvesting by hand starts in February. India produces 70% of the world supply of cumin and consumes 90% of that. That means that India consumes 63% of the world's cumin! In total, around 300,000 tons of cumin per year are produced worldwide.

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Workers bagging cumin at the wholesale spice market in Delhi
Cumin is used predominantly in cuisines where highly spiced foods are preferred. In the Middle East it is a familiar spice used in fish dishes, grilled meats, stews, falafel, couscous, and the spice mix baharat. In Europe, cumin flavors Portuguese and Spanish sausages as well as Dutch Leyden cheese. Cumin is an essential spice in just about every savory Mexican dish from chile con carne to enchiladas

Leyden cheese from the Netherlands flavored with cumin seeds
Indian cooking utilizes many spice mixtures which contain cumin. North Indian cooking features a spice mixture called garam masala meaning "hot spices." Garam masalas vary in composition by regional preferences but most often combine earthy spices like cumin and fenugreek with aromatic spices like green cardamom and cloves. In southern India there is sambar podi, a mix of mostly cumin, coriander, roasted lentils, and aromatics used to flavor vegetarian dishes. In Southern Nepal, Bengal, Bangladesh and parts of North East India, there is a spice mix called panch phoron meaning "five spices" which consists of cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, and nigella seeds. Panch phoron is never ground and is used to flavor vegetable, fish, and meat dishes of those regions. 

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Spice shop in Varanasi
Dry roasted cumin seeds are also used in refreshing drinks and cooling condiments in India. Jaljeera is a popular summer drink in India usually made with a blend of cumin, lime juice, mint, ginger, black pepper, and black salt. Jaljeera is purported to stimulate appetite and aid digestion and commercial mixes are widely available. A salted lassi is a traditional savory drink of chilled water blended with yogurt and oftentimes flavored with toasted cumin seeds. A raita is a dip made of yogurt with toasted cumin seeds and raw or cooked vegetables often served with spicy foods for it's cooling effect on the palate.

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The earthy, warm, and smoky flavor of cumin is best showcased when used with restraint and cooked or dry roasted. Cumin is one of those spices that can quickly overpower an entire dish. Some hearty meat dishes can accommodate a full tablespoon but usually no more than a teaspoon is required for legumes and vegetables. Frying or dry roasting cumin mellows it's harsh raw flavor to a pleasant nutty earthiness. Ground cumin can­ not be toasted as it would char quickly. However, dry roasted cumin can be ground and used as a sea­soning and added just before serving. Almost every North Indian curry starts with spices being fried in ghee or oil. Ground cumin can be used but it must be added after the onions have been fried to prevent burning. Burnt cumin in ground or seed form has an unpleasant bitter flavor. There really isn't anything you can do to rescue a dish tainted with the bitterness of burnt cumin but to toss it and start over. 

cumin, india, Indian, ingredients, jeera, jirako geda, safed jeera, spice, zeera, zira,
Cumin or Safed Jeera seeds
Caraway seeds
An interesting aside:
I think I've found out why cumin, caraway, and black cumin are so often confused for each other.  The root of the English word cumin is from the Latin cuminum which is ultimately derived from Semitic origins. But many other European languages do not distinguish clearly between the cumin and caraway. In German the word for caraway is Kümmel while the name for cumin is Kreuzkümmel (literally "cross-caraway). This indicates that European cooks saw cumin as an exotic spice comparable to the native caraway. (Caraway's carrot-y dill flavor tastes nothing like cumin's earthy warmth to me but the plant and seeds do look similar.) Similarly in Swedish and Danish, caraway is kummin, while cumin is spiskummin. In Romanian cumin is called chimion turcesc or "Turkish caraway." In Hungarian cumin is egyiptomi kömény or "Egyptian caraway." Like most Mediterranean spices cumin seems to have been introduced to northern and eastern Europe around the 9th century by Charlemagne's Capitulare. The Capitulare de villis vel curtis imperii Caroli Magni was a complete list of administrative, legal, and agricultural rules for the new Frankish empire. Towards the end of the document is a complete list of culinary and medicinal herbs to be grown in imperial gardens. Apparently northern and eastern Europe never developed much of a taste for cumin yet it retained it's identity as an exotic variant of caraway. This probably explains why shahi jeera/black cumin is often confused with caraway also.

Black Cumin or Shahi Jeera seeds
Jeera is the Hindi word for cumin and is derived from the Sanskrit root jri meaning to digest. Related words for cumin are today found from the Caucasus to central and southeast Asia: Urdu = zeera, Farsi = zirah, Georgian = dzira, and Burmese = ziyah. In Hindi cumin is sometimes called safed jeera (literally white cumin)  in order to differentiate it from black cumin or shahi jeera.
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