The increasing popularity of Mexican cuisine has boosted
sales for ground cumin. The spice is a key ingredient in traditional tamales,
enchiladas and frijoles refritos (refried beans).
Cumin is the dried seed harvested from the herb Cuminum Cyminum
a member of the parsley
family. Also known as comino, this spice has a
distinctive aromatic odor and a slightly bitter, but warm taste. It
plays a major role in Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisines,
and it's also a popular seasoning in the fiery chili recipes of the
An ancient spice, cumin has been found in the tombs of Pharaohs
and mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Middle Ages, European
superstition cited that cumin kept lovers (and chickens) from
wandering. Brides of that era would carry cumin seeds during wedding ceremonies as a sign of faithfulness to their grooms.
Cumin comes in whole seeds or ground powder. The seeds are
elliptical in shape and yellowish-brown in color. Ground cumin is
a bright khaki powder with a slightly oily texture. It's stronger in flavor than the whole seeds.
As with all spices, store cumin in an airtight container away from light and heat. Use it within six months of purchase.
Ground cumin loses pungency faster than whole seeds. If it's clumpy or dull in color, replace it.
A pinch of cumin can give your everyday recipes an exciting change of
pace. Use cumin seeds in marinades
or add them to
your cooking water when preparing dried beans
or pot roast. They also
add fresh flavor to bottled salad dressings and barbecue sauce.
Stir ground cumin into your tomato sauce
, beef stew and black bean,
lentil or chicken soups. Cumin also makes a great seasoning for
, shish kebab and Mexican-style rice.
Bring out the wonderfully earthy flavor of cumin (seeds or ground) by
in a dry fry pan for two to three minutes before
adding to recipes. Or heat it with a little garlic
and olive oil
drizzle over cooked vegetables.
When cumin is not available, an equal amount of chili powder is an acceptable substitute for most recipes.
Try one of our favorite cumin recipes:
beans, beef, cabbage, cheese, chicken, couscous, curry, eggs, garlic, lamb,
olive oil, peppers, pickles, pork, potatoes, rice, tomatoes, tortillas,