cumin seed

whole
4.9
based on 8 reviews
try me sample
0.28 oz
75¢
pinch jar
1.25 oz
$5
refill
1.25 oz
$3
large refill
5 oz
$9
view packaging
VARIANTS
ground
whole
Whole cumin seeds have a tangy, musky aroma and a savory, almost charred, flavor. They are brown-yellow in color and crescent-shaped. Like other schizocarp (dry fruit) spices, cumin seeds have ridges separated by oil-filled canals running along their lengths.

Whole cumin gains a lot when crushed and lightly toasted in a dry pan—this releases a nuttier flavor with notes of roasted meats and vegetables. In fact, cumin is a favorite spice for emulating savory meat flavors in vegetarian cuisines. It should be used sparingly as it can overpower a dish easily.

Cumin is famously used in Turkish gyros (aka doner kebab) which are made with beef or lamb, versus traditional Greek gyro recipes that can call for chicken or lamb. In Indian cooking whole cumin is often fried in oil at the beginning of curry recipes. It is also found in Mexican dishes, and is ground and used in chili powder blends.
QUICK INFO
cumin seed , whole
INGREDIENTS
Cumin seeds
PLANT PART
seed
PROCESSING / FORM
whole
BOTANICAL NAME
Cuminum cyminum
VOLUME
2 oz (57g) per 1/2 cup
ORIGIN
China, Egypt
BOTANICAL NAME
Cuminum cyminum
AKA
cumin
Roman caraway
spice caraway
Cumin seed is the dried fruit of an annual herbaceous plant in the parsley family called Cuminum cyminum. The plant is native to Southwestern and Central Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean. Cumin favors subtropical climates with multi-monthed stretches of warm temperatures. Today, the large majority of cumin is grown in India, with areas of Syria and Turkey also producing crops.

Cumin needs diligent weeding, and often also thinning, to maintain the plants' health. Cumin's slender stalk has branches that radiate flowers in dense umbels which often can prevent light from getting to plants of lesser height. The plants are tender and therefore require harvesting by hand—done after flowering, when the seeds harden and brown in color, and the vegetative parts wither. Cumin is graded according to seed shade, oil content, and flavor.

It has been found in excavations of ancient civilizations where it appears to have had a variety of uses beyond just as a culinary spice—including aiding in mummifications. It is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and later seems to have been regularly consumed by Romans.

Brought to the new world by the Spanish and Portuguese—where it would become a regular addition to the chili powder spice blends that flavor chili con carne and also in achiote mixes—nowadays cumin is found just as readily in South American and Mexican cooking as in Indian, Persian, Middle Eastern, and North African dishes. It can also be found in traditional French breads and Leyden cheese from the Netherlands.
CONFUSIONS

In the family
Cumin is often confused for caraway and the nomenclature for the herb in Slavic countries blurs the distinction between the two. Called "Roman caraway" or "spice caraway" cumin is actually spicier than its similar-looking relation. In addition to being hotter in taste, it is lighter in color, and bigger in size.

In the same boat
Cumin has eight ridges running lengthwise along its boat-shaped body with oil canals between them. It is yellow-brown in color and looks similar not just to caraway but also the other schizocarp herbaceous spices: fennel and anise seed.

 
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