Cumin seeds form an important part of various spice mixtures such as Panch Phoron (from Bengal), Garam masala and Sambhar Masala (used in its powdered form) etc. It is fried in heated oil before other ingredients are added when making curries or dry vegetables.
Cumin has a strong, fresh aroma. It can be dry roasted on a hot pan, cooled, powdered and stored in an airtight container. This fresh powder is added while preparing yogurt or raita and drinks such as panna (normally had with golgappas) and lemonade. Cumin has antiseptic properties and strengthens the stomach. ‘Jira’ in fact means ‘that which helps digestion’.