Zira-e-Sia, or black cumin, is the dried seed of the herb (Cuminum cyminum L.). It has been in use as a spice for thousands of years. Black cumin is not very well known outside of the Middle East.
Black cumin naturally grows with other wild bushes along the foothills of the Hindu Kush and Baba mountains in Afghanistan. It is an annual herbaceous plant, with a slender, glabrous brunched stem and is 20-30cm tall and 3-5cm diameter stem, colored grey or dark green difficult to differentiate from other plants. The optimum growth temperature ranges are between 25 and 30 °C. The seeds are lateral fusiform, 4-5mm long, dark to black in color and medium size. It has a spicy and hot taste.
This product is harvested by local communities from the mountain and foothills with its bushes and storing. The seeds are separated from the plants by pounding and separated from the straw.
Black cumin is used as an ingredient in different traditional food recipes, and it has a special value for traditional medicinal use like digestion, psoriasis, eczema, diarrhea, colic, asthma, allergies, cough, and flu. However, black cumin has been added as a spice to a variety of Persian traditional foods such as yogurt, pickles, sauces, and for flavoring of baked goods and cheese.
After the introduction of green cumin in the country as a cash crop for dry farming in 1997, many farmers destroyed the natural pasture and foothills landscape in order to cultivate green cumin. Dryland farming of this crop caused land loss, natural pasture damage, and negative impact in generating black cumin.