Cumin seed is used as a spice for its distinctive flavour and aroma. Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. It imparts an earthy, warming and aromatic character to food, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as spiced gravies such as curry and chili. It is also used as an ingredient in some pickles and pastries. The seeds are powdered and used in different forms like kashaya (decoction), arishta (fermented decoction), and vati (tablet/pills), and processed with ghee (a semifluid clarified butter). In traditional medicine practices of several countries, dried cumin seeds are believed to have medicinal purposes. In southern Indian states, a popular drink called jira water is made by boiling cumin seeds. Cumin's distinctive flavour and warm aroma are due to its essential oil content, primarily the aroma compound, cuminaldehyde.