What is Cumin?

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.


Jeera

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?



Cumin health benefits

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?

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.


Cumin spice

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.

Healthy living

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.


Cumin beef

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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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.



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