Cooking with Cumin

Cooking with Cumin

(Cuminum cyminum) Whether spelled cumin or cummin, it is always pronounced with the 'u' as in hut. Cumin is one of the most important spice seeds in Indian cooking, indeed it is used throughout Asia in the spice blends which are sprinkled over savories, or cooked in the sauces called curries. Not to be confused with caraway, which looks similar, but has quite a different flavor. Cumin is used in almost every spice mixture in ground form except in panch phora where the whole seeds are used. In addition, there are some recipes where it is the predominant flavor.

Besides the pale brown seeds which are so familiar, there are several other kinds of cumin. There is a light green more acutely curved seed known as Lucknow cumin and the fine, slender seed of shah zeera or rayal cumin is darker in color and therefore also referred to as black cumin or kala zeera.

Roasting cumin brings out different nuances of flavor and it is worth having a separate jar of roasted cumin to be crushed coarsely and sprinkled over a variety of dishes for extra flavor. One of the simplest yet most effective ways of using roasted cumin is to crush it just before sprinkling over banana slices in yoghurt to serve as an accompaniment.

Medicinal uses : Cumin is a digestive and carminative, two good reasons to keep this fragrant spice well represented in everyday food.

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