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What is cumin and how to use it in cooking?

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Cumin is a spice made from Cuminum cyminum. Cumin is used in Latin American, Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian cuisines. It is available in whole seed and ground form. Some people commonly use cumin seed to give an exotic flavor to the cuisine however, cumin is an aromatic spice that doesn’t lose it fragment and flavor when crushed into powder.  

What is cumin?

Cumin is ancient species from Egypt and the Middle East. It is very popular in Greeks, Romans, and South Asian countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sir Lanka, and other countries. However, cumin has become popular species in American, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mexican dishes. As cumin makes dishes flavorful, these countries are also using cumin to enhance the flavor. Though western countries many not use cumin compare to south Asian countries, people in these countries are developing a habit of using spices in the dishes.

Cumin seeds are harvested from annual plants. It is found in brownish-yellow, black, green, and white colors. However, brownish-yellow cumin is widely popular in most countries. Cumin seeds are popularly used in South Asian countries and grounded cumin is an ingredient in Mexican and Middle Eastern dishes. Mexican and Middle Eastern people use cumin powder in baked beans, soups, and marinades. Cumin powder is typically used in chili powder and while preparing garam masala, curries powder, and meat masala.  

This earthy flavor spice has both sweetness and bitterness. To balance the sweet and bitter flavor of cumin seeds are roasted before using them in the dishes. However, cumin powder can be directly used in any dishes to enhance the taste and aroma. 

Whole cumin and ground cumin

Cumin is available in whole and powder form. Cumin is an important ingredient in most South Asian cuisines. Black cumin and green cumin are two types of cuisine that are popular in most of the South Asian countries. And cumin seeds are more popular than cumin powder in these countries. 

While using cumin seed in cuisines, they are roasted in hot oil at the beginning so that the flavor infuses in the oil and the rest of the ingredients. Using cumin seed in the dishes brings more flavors to the dishes, which is why they are slightly roasted in a dry pan on low flame for few minutes. They can also be roasted in medium flame in a medium flame for a few seconds. 

Cumin powder is easily available in stores and also can be prepared at home. Ground cumin is made by blending dry-roasted cumin seeds. Using ground cumin prepared in the home is much more aromatic and flavorful than getting cumin powder from the store. Using freshly-powdered cumin adds more flavor to dishes, which is why cumin powder from the store may not be very aromatic and flavorful. 

Once the cumin seeds are converted into powdered form it should be packed in a tight jar to seal its flavor. However, cumin powder loses its flavor easily, which is why a jar of the lid has to be covered tightly after every use. To get fresh cumin flavor in the dishes, you need to replace the cumin powder regularly so prepare it for a few weeks or a month. However, cumin seeds can be store for a few years. 

Cooking using cumin

There is a different way of using cumin depending upon the recipe. Cumin seeds and cumin powder are used differently in dishes. Whole cumin seeds should be used at the beginning of the recipe so that it has time to release its essence. Adding cumin seed in the hot oil will allow the flavor of cumin to disperse into the dishes. However, ground cumin can be sprinkled after using the main ingredient. Cumin powder is commonly used in curry and marinade. 

If you are switching from cumin seed to cumin powder, you will need to add a different amount. When you are using cumin seed in the food you will need less because it has a high aroma and flavor. Powder cumin has to be used in more quantity because flavor concentration is comparatively low than of cumin seeds.

Health benefits of cumin 

Cumin is an incredible flavoring agent and has numerous health benefits. It has a high concentration of iron and has antioxidant properties. Consuming cumin daily can help in improving digestion and can also prevent diseases like diabetes. People with a high cholesterol level can drink cumin water to lower cholesterol level. However, it’s better to consult with a doctor before drinking it regularly.

 Cumin water can also aid in weight loss. Drinking cumin water on an empty stomach can also help you lose weight. You can feel different in a few weeks.

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