The main producer and consumer of cumin is India. It produces 70% of the world production and consumes 90% of its own production (which means that India consumes 63% of the world’s cumin). In 2007, India produced around 175,000 tons of cumin on an area of about 410,000 ha., i.e. the average yield was 0.43 tons per hectare.
In Sanskrit, cumin is known as Jira “that which helps digestion”. In the Ayurvedic system, dried cumin seeds are used for medicinal purposes. These seeds are powdered and used in different forms like kashaya (decoction), arishta (fermented decoction), vati (tablet/pills), and processed with ghee (a semi-fluid clarified butter). It is used internally and sometimes for external applications also.
In southern India, popular drinks such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu are called jira water, which is made by boiling cumin seeds. It is believed that cumin is beneficial for heart disease, swellings, tastelessness, vomiting, poor digestion and chronic fever.