Do You Know The History Of Ka’moon?
Ahh, yes, we now embark on the joyful time of year when food becomes the focus of most celebrations. As you’re digging into that leftover stuffing or indulging in another heaping slice of pumpkin pie, remember that those savory herbs and spices that are so often used to liven your fare have also been historically important elements for reasons far beyond adding flavor. In a pre-pharmaceutical age, plant-based remedies were all people had to prevent and cure diseases and help ease pain. One of those herbs, cumin, has a long and illustrious medicinal resume and holds a special place in the heart of Egyptian culture, not to mention cuisine. For those reasons, coupled with its powerful flavor composition, cumin serves as the inspiration behind the name of our next Egyptian-inspired eatery – Ka’moon.
The early trade routes between northern Africa and Asia included the exchange of a variety of spices. Cumin, being a native plant to the Middle East, was one of the most commonly available herbs. Even today the aromatic spice is considered to be the second most popular herb worldwide, second only to black pepper. Moreover, in ancient Egypt, cumin not only flavored food, but also was said to preserve mummies. If it can preserve the dead, imagine just how useful the spice might be to the living!
As mentioned, cumin has many valuable medicinal properties. Like many herbs, people use it combined with other ingredients as an aphrodisiac. Possibly because of cumin’s soothing and comforting qualities, it even became a sweeping symbol of love and fidelity, with soldiers and sailors oftentimes carrying seeds in their pockets to remember home. The plant has the puzzling property of being both a stimulant, due to the presence of caffeine, and a sleep aid, if used as an essential oil. How to use it remains a mystery explained in part by the placebo effect. The caffeine aspect has enabled the treatment of asthma, by opening up the bronchial tubes to allow for easier breathing. The bronchodilator effect combines with cumin’s disinfectant quality and serves as an expectorant to help with colds and bronchitis.
While homeopathic, most people love cumin because of the wonderful taste. A fairly warm spice, cumin adds depth to curry powders and chili powders alike, making its presence known across many world cuisines. The health benefits are mostly found in the seeds, due to the presence of iron, copper, zinc, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, B, C and E. Chewed cumin seeds act as both an anti-flatulent, helpful when eating beans, and as a stomach soother, helpful when eating curry.
Egyptians are known by many as the masters of herbs and spices, so we’ve compiled a few examples. Our warm seasoned lentils are simmered with cumin and served with a side of freshly made pita bread or pita chips. Chefs often opt to include cumin in falafel, a deep-fried combination of ground chickpeas, fava beans, and a mixture of spices. Kushari, which you may have seen referenced in our previous blogs, attributes one of its many culinary charms to the use of cumin. Overall, you will be hard pressed to find a single one of menu items that doesn’t rely on the mighty properties of cumin.
This holiday season, close your eyes when you bite into that scrumptious baklava or ginger cookie, while imagining the exotic places and adventures that those spices endured to end up as a binding element on your table. No need to dwell on the calorie consumption, just consider it a history lesson in your mouth. Ka’moon, meaning cumin in Arabic, is set to open in The Bourse Philly located in The City of Brotherly love during 2018! Stay tuned for more details on our epic adventure to help foodies everywhere #EatLikeAnEgyptian.