Cumin seeds | Seed Root Leaf | Organic & Fair Trade Spices

Cumin

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Cumin seeds are small but carry a great amount of taste. They are nutty and bittersweet, and characterise the cuisine of India, Middle-East and Mexico

Our cumin seeds are of an Indian variety (tastier and with a more intense parfum) and are grown organically by small cooperatives of farmers in Sri Lanka

 

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This post was updated on February 2nd, 2019

CUMIN

Cumin is a plant of the Umbelliferae family, and its seeds are used as a spice since at least 5000 years ago; there is evidence of its use in ancient Syria and Egypt and it is mentioned in the Bible.

It is probably native of Egypt, and from here it spread to all Middle East and further, to Iran and then to India, where it has been adopted and became one of the most important spices. It has a strong aromatic odor, and an earthy, savory, slightly bitter taste. It is one of the basic spices in Indian cooking and in Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines. In Middle Eastern countries it is often present as a table seasoning, in powdered form, alongside salt.

ORIGIN

We source our coriander from small farmers in Sri Lanka, that grow it organically. This cumin is of the Indian cultivar, that has a stronger taste and a brown color.

Cumin is often confused with other seed spices, like caraway (carum carvi), un unrelated spice with a similar aspect but distinct taste, common in eastern and northern Europe. In many of these countries, cumin is called “roman caraway”, meaning that it came from Italy (but generically from the Mediterranean regions) and to distinguish it from the local caraway.

TASTE AND USES IN THE KITCHEN

Cumin makes us instantly think about North-African and Middle-Eastern food, that is heavily flavored with this spice: examples include hummus, the typical chickpeas puree with tahini (sesame paste), kibbeh (meat and bulgur croquettes), borek (baked pastries made with phyllo dough, with different fillings), shakshuka, kebab, kofta, and many other grilled meat dishes. The strong taste of cumin is well suited to be paired with bold ingredients that can keep head with it, but even a simple dish of caramelized onions and rice is exalted by a pinch of toasted and ground cumin.

I personally used it in every meat marinade, but also paired with fennel and caraway to season potato-based filling for vegetarian samosas, and to add a bold note to ratatouille. It is also a go-to spice (along with coriander seeds) to start spice mixes; it is among the ingredients of garam masala, ras-el-hanout, and all various curry powders.

One of the best things to do when using cumin seeds (and for many other seed spices is the same) is to toast it of a hot skillet; this roasting or sautéing releases the essential oils and greatly increases the aroma and flavor of cumin. Be careful not to burn them, so moving the seeds around in the skillet is a good practice. Then the seeds can be used whole, or you can grind them and them to the dish later. For example, ground cumin is often used as a finishing seasoning for Indian yogurt-based salad raita.

PAIRINGS

Cumin, according to flavor profiles, pairs astonishing well with the following products:

Spices – Cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, star anise, nutmeg

Seasonings and herbs – Fresh ginger, citrus zest, thyme, rosemary, cilantro

Fruits & Vegetables – Tomato, carrot, eggplant, fennel

Proteins – Beef, chicken, lamb, chickpeas

Other – Yogurt

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES

Traditionally cumin seeds are used as a stimulant, to improve digestion and reduce gastric problems (diarrhea, flatulence).

Scientific researches have showed that dietary cumin have a significant stimulation on bile flow rate, thus helping digestion; it also reduces the food transit time by 25%.

The essential oil of cumin shows a good anti-inflammatory effect, while the aqueous extract of cumin seeds (like in an infusion) is an effective treatment for diarrhea (as proven by scientific researches on rats).

NAME IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES (FRENCH, ARABIC, HINDU, SPANISH, CHINESE)

Scientific name Cuminum cyminum  
Arabic Kamoun كمون
Chinese (Mandarin) ku-ming, ziran 枯茗, 孜然
English Cumin  
French Cumin, Cumin du Maroc, Faux Anis  
German Kreuzkümmel, Römischer kümmel *  
Italian Cumino  
Hindi Jira, Jeera जीरा
Japanese  
Spanish Comino  
Turkish Kimyon  

*Kümmel is the German name of Caraway, a plant related to cumin, and very common in Germany and in Northern Europe. Caraway and Cumin are very similar, so the latter in Germany is seen as a variation of the former: cross-cumin or roman cumin

Origin

Matale district, Sri Lanka

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