From the Spice Cupboard: Cumin

Cumin is one of those spices we feel is essential for any spice cupboard. Just a teaspoon adds a hint of smokiness; use more and your dish infused with sweet earthy flavors. Hear more about this spice after the jump!Here in the United States, we most often associate the flavor of cumin with southwestern and Mexican cooking. This spice is actually native to southwest Asia and made its way into cuisines around the world through the spice trade. It's also a hallmark in North African, Indian, and Middle Eastern cooking.

The smoky flavor of cumin also works well in combination with other spices like chilis, cinnamon, and coriander. (Hmm...maybe it has something to do with spices that start with "c"?!) The dried seeds are tiny and oblong, and the spice is a light orange-brown when ground. Use it to in soups and stews, spice rubs, and cooked grains.

If you want to experiment with cumin, start with a teaspoon and work your way up to a tablespoon. Ground cumin is perfectly fine, but also give whole cumin seeds a try at some point. Toasting the seeds and grinding them yourself is worth the fresh, bright flavor. Keep an eye out for different varieties of cumin, like white cumin and black cumin!

Check out these cumin-spiced dishes:
Creamy Black-eyed Pea Soup with Cumin and Thyme
Chicken Posole
Cincinnati Chili
Lemon Rasam
Israeli Cous Cous with Chard
Chicken with Lemon, Cumin, and Mint

Are you a fan of cumin?

Related: Word of Mouth: Jeera

(Image: Elizabeth Passarella for the Kitchn)

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