When I first started cooking, I had trouble differentiating between fennel seeds (jintan manis) and cumin (jintan putih). It doesn't help that in Malaysia, these spices are commonly referred to in Malay and both of the names sounds similar.
Cumin (jintan putih) is a more popular herb which is used widely in Chinese, Indian, Malay and Middle-eastern dishes. In fact, cumin is the world's second most popular spice after black pepper!
Cumin can be bitter or sweet; with earthy/musky/pungent/spicy notes of lemon, nuts and smoke. Whereas fennel (jintan manis) as a sweet flavour with notes of anise and/or licorice, and a crunchy texture.
Health properties of cumin (jintan putih)
- Relieves flatulence and bloating, and stimulates the entire digestive process. Reducing abdominal gasses and distension, it relaxes the gut.
- In Indian herbal medicine, cumin is used for insomnia, colds, and fevers.
- Both cumin and fennel seeds can also be taken to improve breast-milk production.
Health properties of fennel (Jintan Manis)
- The primary use of fennel seeds is to relieve bloating, but they also settle stomach pain, stimulate the appetite, and are diuretic and anti-inflammatory.
- The seeds helps in teh treatment of kidney stones, and combined with urinary antiseptics such as uva-ursi, make an effective treatment for cytitis.
- An infusion of the seeds may be taken as a gargle for sore throats.
- It has longstanding reputation as an aid to weight loss and to longevity.
Cumin (Jintan Putih)
- English name: Cumin seeds
- Malay name: Jintan putih
- Chinese name: 茴香种子
- Scientific name: Cuminum cyminum
Fennel seeds (Jintan Manis)
Fennel seed is occasionally mistaken with aniseed.
- English name: Fennel seeds
- Malay name: Jintan manis
- Chinese name: 小茴香种子
- Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare
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