What is Cumin? Tips and Info on
How to Use This Popular Spice

You've added the whole seeds to your curries or used them in your blends, but exactly what is cumin? A member of the parsley family, originally this spice was a native of the Mediterranean and upper Egypt.

Today it's cultivated throughout the world in countries ranging from Iran and Africa, through to Mexico, Chile and India.

Varieties and Uses of Cumin

picture of cumin seeds

An ancient spice, the cumin plant was grown in ancient Egypt where the seeds were used in rituals and for food.

There's even mention of it in the Old and New Testaments where it is spelled "cummin". 

Also a popular plant in Rome and ancient Greece where it was used for culinary, medicinal and traditional purposes. 

Read more on the interesting history of cumin.

Suggested Culinary Uses...

Second only in popularity to black peppercorns, this is a staple ingredient in many cultures, and cumin spice is used extensively in Indian, Mexican and North African cooking.

Ground cumin works well in soups, and meaty dishes like stews and chili con carne, not to forget the many Asian recipes, curries and rice dishes and the like.

It's also an indispensable component in many blends like curry powders and various garam masalas.

Getting The Maximum Flavour Out of Cumin Seeds...

To get the best flavour out of your seeds, I recommend lightly roasting and grinding them before adding to your food or when blending to make your homemade blends.

Doing this yourself takes a little effort, but the intense flavours and aroma this adds to your cooking are massive. 

What is Cumin? Even More Info!

cumin seed picture

There are 2 main types of seed available: black and white.

White cumin seeds (Cuminum cyminum)  closely resemble caraway and fennel seeds, and are a light yellow brown in colour with ridges and oblong in shape. These are the most common variety used in cuisines.

Black cumin seeds (Bunium persicum) are often mistaken for nigella seeds, when in fact they are very different. 

This type are really a very dark brown in colour, they are lighter and sweeter than the other types and work well in creamy foods, rice dishes and the more exotic blends of Northern India and Persia. 

Click to read more about this black variety.

Now You Know What is Cumin, Here Are Others You May Enjoy 

Find Out What is Turmeric

Tips and Uses of Saffron

Varieties and Culinary
Uses of Paprika

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