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Ingredient Spotlight: Cumin

I use cumin several times a week in my cooking. It’s a versatile spice because it is found in so many different cuisines: Mexican, Tex-Mex, Indian, Asian, North African, Middle Eastern, and European.

Cumin has a distinctive taste and smell. Open a packet of taco seasoning and the earthy, warm aroma that stands out from the rest of the spices is actually cumin. For many people, however, too much cumin reminds them of body odor—so depending on personal preference, cumin can be quite lovely or a little gross!

I mainly use cumin already ground. It blends beautifully with dairy, especially sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, or paneer. It complements other warm or hot spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, paprika, cracked black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and herbs like dried oregano. It works with tomato or red bell pepper sauce, in lentil soup or with other beans (pinto, red, black, and garbanzo). It makes a great rub for chicken, pork, or tofu. And finally, cumin melds with honey and fruits like apricots, mangoes, peaches, lemons, or apples.

You can also find cumin seeds. They have a slightly bitter bite to them but when they’re toasted, they are a wonderful addition to greens or spinach pie.

Try cumin in both whole and ground form. See how many different ways you can use it in your cooking. And of course, stay tuned for a recipe featuring cumin!

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