QUICK FACTS

Flavor: Bitter, warm, and earthy

Use with: Savory recipes such as chili, meat, fish, and stews.

Cumin seeds on blue

HISTORY

Cumin is mostly grown in the middle east, and its major producers are Iran, India, Turkey, and Morocco. Its history goes back 5,000 years when ancient Egyptians used the spice in their mummification process. In Roman times, cumin symbolized greed, and a common insult was to say that a penny-pincher had eaten it. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180, was thought to be so selfish his subjects secretly called him Cuminus.

spilt cumin

PRODUCTION

Even though it may not look like it, cumin is part of the parsley family! It is harvested when the seeds have ripened but before the fruits have grown on the plant. The seeds are small and a green/gray color. If the seeds are ground, the cumin turns to a more red/brown color. The aroma will get much stronger as the cumin is ground. When it is ground, the spice will hold its flavor for one year while the seeds will last for 3.

FLAVOR AND USAGE

Cumin’s taste gets much smokier if you toast it prior to usage. Ground or in seeds, it is a vital seasoning in Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, North African, Mexican, and Latin American food. It goes well in stews, couscous or rice dishes, with meat, or with vegetables. It is particularly delicious in curries and with lamb.

Foreign Fork Recipes with Cumin