Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to East India.
In Northern India and Nepal, cumin is known as jeera (Devanagari ????) or jira, while in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan it is known as zeera (Persian ????); in Southern India it is called “Jeerakam”.
Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.[unreliable source?] Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, Northern Mexican cuisines, Central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the Western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin can be an ingredient in (often Texan or Mexican-style) Chili powder, and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.
Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It is traditionally used in Indian, Middle-Eastern, Spanish, Italian, Cuban and Tex-Mex cuisine (though infrequently in Mexico). Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It helps to add an earthy and warming feeling to cooking, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as curries and chilli.