The Spice Series: How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen

How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen

How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen 

This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen!

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is the second most popular spice in the world, right after black pepper.  Cumin is an essential item for curries, and has been actively used by humans for at least 4,000 years.

Cumin is an herb grown for the seeds.  It adds a unique flavor to many Indian and Mexican dishes.

There are different types of plants in the cumin family, which includes: white, brown, and black. I could not find much information about white cumin. However, brown and black do have a few differences and whenever possible, I specified which to use. 

**Warning: there are TWO types of products out there that go by the name “Black Cumin Seeds”. It is important to know the scientific names of plants so you don’t buy the wrong thing. The Black Cumin I am talking about is part of the cumin family, which is also called Kala Jeera, and the scientific name is Bunium bulbocastanum.

This article includes information on both how to use cumin in the kitchen, as well as a few snippets of information on the medicinal benefits of cumin. Click here to read about how to grow cumin.

I hope you like this material, and, as always, if you have any questions/comments/additional sources for me, please post in the comment section below! Enjoy!


The Medicinal Benefits of Cumin:

**Cumin is not really used in Western herbal medicine, partly because caraway is similar in both medicinal benefits and appearance.

**It is still widely used in India, however, because cumin is said to promote the medicinal benefits of other herbs and it is also said to improve liver function.

**Cumin benefits the digestive system. A tonic or tea made of cumin is used to treat flatulence and bloating. Here’s a recipe for a cumin tonic that I found helpful. It also reduces intestinal gas and relaxes the stomach/digestion area as a whole.

**You can simply simmer cumin seeds in boiling water and then infuse it for 8-10 minutes to make a warm and soothing tea in order to get most of these medicinal benefits.


How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen

How to Use Cumin Seeds in the Kitchen:

**Cumin is frequently confused with caraway, especially because both have similar-looking seeds. However, while caraway can substitute for cumin in some dishes, for many other recipes–in Indian and Mexican cooking, for example–it is essential to have actual cumin.

**Cumin seeds are very aromatic and have a slightly nutty flavor. Cumin seeds are available in brown, white and black colors.

**Black cumin seeds (also know as Kala Jeera) are frequently used in curries, chili, and the spice mix called garam masala (here is a recipe for garam masala). Black cumin has a sweeter flavor, but brown and white seeds are quite similar and can also be used in the same types of food as black cumin.

**Brown Cumin is available both in its whole seed form (like these) and as a powder (like this). To make the best of their aroma and flavor, whole cumin seeds are lightly roasted before use. Here is a great tutorial on how to roast cumin seeds.

**As is usually the case, it is best to buy whole cumin seeds instead of cumin powder since the latter loses its flavor more quickly. Both cumin seeds and cumin powder should be kept in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark and dry place. Ground cumin will keep for about 6 months, while the whole seeds will stay fresh for about a year.

**Cumin seeds go well with these other spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cocoa, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, and even vanilla.

**Cumin can be used creatively in the following recipes: breads and biscuits, chocolate, chutney, lamb, potatoes, and rice.

**As I already mentioned, you CAN use either black or brown cumin seeds interchangeably in your cooking. However, I thought it would fun to list of recipes that specifically use one or the other type of cumin seed. That way, if you’re interested, you can explore the taste differences between the two types of cumin seed. 

Here is a list of Black Cumin Seed Recipes for Cooking Inspiration:

Here are some more Cumin recipes for you to try:

I hope you enjoyed learning about How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen!

Do you use cumin in the kitchen? If so, what are your favorite cumin recipes? Please feel free to add recipes to the comment section below!

There you go! This is all of the information that I could find on how to use cumin in the kitchen. Please click here for the introduction to my Spice Series.  Again, if you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!

Click here to learn how to grow your own cumin!


How to Use Cumin in the Kitchen


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  1. I planted some last week ((new plants) they haven’t grown much but looks like flowers are forming. What am I doing wrong?

  2. It’s probably too hot for them. Arugula will bolt aka flower if too hot. You could try growing them in a more shady spot. Since they are greens, they don’t need direct sun.

    1. Yum! I love arugula pesto (though I don’t make it often because I LOVE eating arugula as a salad).

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