Kin to carrots and parsley, cumin is the dried fruit of the Cuminum cyminum plant. A major ingredient in chili and curry powders,
cumin is also a favored spice in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean, Northern African, Indian, and Mexican food due to its
mellow, nutty taste.
How to Choose Cumin
Cumin can be purchased ground or in seed form. It comes in three colors: amber, white, and black. Amber is the most widely available and can be used interchangeably with white; black cumin has a more complex flavor.
How to Store Cumin
When stored properly, ground cumin can last up to 2 years and whole seeds up to 3 years. Both should be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat. Faded color or diminished aroma or taste usually indicates that the spice is old and should be replaced.
How to Prepare Cumin
Cumin seeds can be used whole or ground with a spice grinder. Many cooks prefer to dry roast cumin to draw out the smoky, hot flavor: Heat the seeds in a heavy frying pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally until they start to darken and release their fragrance.
How to Use Cumin
Second only to black pepper in worldwide popularity, cumin can be added to stews, sauces, rice, legumes, soups, meats, or vegetables. A pinch of cumin packs a punch, so use sparingly.
Real Simple Cumin Recipes:
- Red Curry Meatballs
- Sunday-Night Chili
- Turkey and Poblano Chili
- Big-Batch Beef and Bean Chili
- Chicken Curry
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