What is cumin but a spice rich in phytosterols and flavour.
Many things are uncovered by accident, in science as in cooking. Rontgen made his great discovery of xray, for example, not because he was looking for it but by being observant. He was just messing around and having fun; no one had even given a thought to this unknown radiation.
Less significant, I discovered that freshly ground spices are far superior to that which you'll get in the grocery store. For five years I've been making our authentic hummus recipe with the powdered stuff. Then a month ago, luckily, the store ran out.
The better option, the Indian teller confided was to grind our own; so, a packet of the seeds. This is what jeera looks like.
Cumin spice is a Middle Eastern and Indian condiment, known locally as jeera; it's used extensively in curries and vegetable dishes like hummus. It's actually first cousin to another favourite, parsley. Google cumin spice if you're interested in its ancient use by the Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians... it goes back to at least several centuries BC.So, now you can answer at least in part the question what is cumin?
Whilst cumin is rich in fibre, unsaturated fat, protein and many vitamins, you'll eat so little of it that I would suggest that the chief cumin health benefit is to turn some otherwise rather dull foods, like hummus, into very tasty and delicious food. We add hummus to all our salads, not for cumin health benefits, good though they are, but for the chickpeas; they are number two in the cholesterol-lowering stakes, after oats. Read more about foods that lower cholesterol ...
Various texts recommend the mortar and pestle, but do yourself a favour... give it the miss. It'll take you an hour to grind two tablespoons!
Rather use a herb or coffee grinder; they are inexpensive.
Incidentally most recipes called for roasted cumin, and it's so easy. Toss a couple tablespoons into a pan, turn on moderate heat, and keep turning it so it doesn't burn.
What is cumin but a Middle Eastern spice which I love in our authentic humus recipe and chicken dishes.
Can you see the cumin seeds on the right are markedly darker? It takes only three or four minutes. When you see a vapour coming off with a delicious aromatic scent, you know it's done. Careful not to burn them; that pan stays hot after turning the heat off.
Back for a moment to the beauty of fresh cumin spice. I really shouldn't have been surprised. Freshly ground coffee is much nicer; pepper too; oxygen is the problem. Once the kernel is cracked in any seed, oxygen begins to do it's business. Oxidation and it's not long before many of the cumin health benefits are lost. Just like freshly ground wheat is full of vitamin E. Leave it for a few days and, pouff, it goes rancid; or, is oxidised. And a chemistry graduate should have known that, but somehow it escaped me.
Now the simple trick that I use. Since I use my cumin spice mainly in hummus, which is loaded with olive oil, I use this blender to chop up the roast cumin seeds, in olive oil. It's much easier than the mortar and pestle, and you don't have to buy a designated herb grinder. Which I will sometime, though...
Update: I now have that inexpensive coffee grinder (less than $20) and first grind the roasted seeds and then liquidise with olive oil.
So, you can work the cumin spice either with a stick blender, or a coffee grinder; both work just fine.
What is cumin ... the way I store it is under olive oil, that keeps the oxygen out, and of course in the fridge. It'll keep for several months this way, at a push, but I'm continuing to notice how freshly ground is much tastier. About one half a teaspoon of this mix in a cup of chickpeas is about right.
And then of course, with a dirty blender, I go straight on with our famous authentic hummus recipe, a must if you're into healthy living. Once you have soaked and cooked the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), it takes me only 4 minutes, but then I make two large tubs a week. I could make hummus in my sleep! But not without knowing what is cumin.
Don't be put off by "tahin". You've probably never heard of it. It's just sesame paste, just as easy to make as your what is cumin mix. Make your own sesame tahini paste if you can't find it in the shops.
The sesame seeds are particularly rich in an amino acid called tryptophan that is vital for the formation of serotonin in the brain; it mediates memory and mood, and learning. Brown rice also has large amounts of tryptophan, but white of course has been robbed of all its goodness; it's good for one thing only and that is making you fat. White rice has an extremely high glycemic index. Healthy living folk never buy white rice.
Fraid you're going to have to wait a bit for Cumin Beef. Next time we roast a joint...
I made note that cumin is a first cousin of my other favourite: Parsley benefits and with parsley you can get significant amounts of vitamin K especially if you bruise easily.
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