Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spice It UP!!! Cumin

Instead of Tuesday Tip this week, I am showcasing my Spice It UP!!! feature since the last day of the month fell on a weekend, and I wasn't prepared (GASP!!!).  I know, I know.....  Shame on me....  Better late than never, right?

So I got to thinking about what I was going to feature last Friday.  Lo and behold, a co-worker was talking about cumin and how she didn't know if she should buy it to put it in a recipe, if it was worth it, etc.  I stopped dead in my tracks and STRONGLY encouraged her to buy it.  "Why?" she asked.   Well--ummm----(I'm not the most articulate sometimes....)--because it's good and fantastic in spicy dishes (insert head slap here).  So without further ado--CUMIN is featured this month!

{Ground cumin}

Cumin (pronounced KUH-mihn) is native to eastern Mediterranean countries as well as upper Egypt.  However, nowadays, it is seen in the African, Latin and Asian cuisines.  It has a strong, spicy, sweet aroma with a slightly bitter and peppery yet pungent taste.  Amber is the most widely available (see photo) but black is also used and more spicy. (source)

Cumin is an excellent source of iron, and it aids in the digestion of food.  Cumin is believed to have anti-carcinogenic properties.  (source)  Use the seeds or the ground version in dishes to give it an added depth.  Cumin pairs well with anything--legumes, meats, and vegetables (okay maybe not fruit).  I believe it imparts a 'smokiness' to foods; in fact, I use it in just about anything with tomatoes, spice (like chili powder or chili flakes) or where I want a bit of 'smokiness'.  (pssssttt---this is my secret ingredient in my chili!)

After writing all of this, and having a dish with cumin in it waiting for me in the crockpot for dinner (homemade chicken vindaloo!), I would have to say that this is my favorite spice.  Plus, judging from all the recipes I currently have made (and the ones waiting to grace my plate) I would have to agree!

Here are recipes that have cumin:

Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas
Chana Masala
Black Bean Ragout
Pumpkin and White Bean Stew
Chicken Shawarma

Do you use cumin?  If you do, how do you use it?  Do you have a recipe that uses it?  If so, please share!

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