Cumin is a signature part of cuisine in many cultures throughout the world and even though the sound and look of it's name may vary, the taste is universally unmistakable.
When cumin's distinctive, powerful taste and aroma is added to cooking it tends to dominate the other flavors, in a good way. With its strong, spicy-sweet aroma and slightly bitter taste, cumin adds a dimension to cooking that can't be imitated.
Cumin is a dried seed from the fruit of a smaller, slender annual herb, Cuminum cyminum, which is a member of the parsley family. The brown seeds can be added to soups, lentils, curries, and savory rice dishes and pair exceptionally well with coriander. Seeds can be toasted to bring out a less intense nutty flavor.
For a more robust flavor, the seeds are ground to bring out the pungency and bitterness of the spice. To make ground cumin, simply crush the seeds into powder using a mortar and pestle or, for larger quantities, use a spice grinder. To ensure freshness, sift and store your freshly ground cumin in an airtight glass jar.
The invigorating qualities of ground cumin balances well with cool, mellower flavors found in seafood or yogurt dishes. Wild GInger uses cumin in a variety of dishes, but most commonly the curry dishes as cumin is the main ingredient providing that essential kick to fiery curry powder.