The spice has its origins in India and the eastern Mediterranean region, and today it's one of the world's most popular culinary herbs, used by cooks in Asia, northern Mexico, and many places in between. It belongs to the Apiaceae family of plants, the botanical family that also includes carrots, parsley, asise, fennel, dill, celery, parsnip, and other familiar herbs and spices regularly used in cooking. The part of the cumin plant used in cooking is the seed pod, or fruit. The plant produces fruits with a single seed contained within each one. These fruits are then dried and either used whole or ground into powder.
Cumin has warm, hearty flavor tones that impart a very slight hotness, or mild “bite” to foods. It's flavor is like nothing else, and it's an indispensable ingredient in many chili powder blends. It's aroma is strong, earthy, and substantial, imparting to a comforting quality to dishes.
Use cumin powder on Spanish rices and casseroles, beans, and grilled or sauteed meats, meat substitutes, and vegetables. It's great for use on tacos, burritos, and fajitas, and it's also nice in many soups and stews. Try using cumin combined with garlic powder; the spices compliment each other very well.