Cumin is one of the most popular spices in the world and a key ingredient in dishes from Tex-Mex to Indian curries. Its savory, earthy complexity lends itself to comforting soups and stews as well as spiced meats and salad dressings. It also adds depth to roasted root vegetables and brings out the sweetness in meat dishes.
Whole cumin seeds and ground cumin both come from the same plant (Cuminum cyminum) but each has a slightly different flavor profile. Whole seeds have a nutty, peppery, citrus flavor while ground cumin is more savory and has a slight roasted flavor, depending on how it was processed.
If you want to get the most out of your cumin, consider dry roasting the whole seeds before using them. This is a simple process of heating the seeds in a pan without oil until their rich aroma is released. This can be done in advance of cooking or at the time of making a recipe and will help to develop the savory flavors that make cumin so special.
In addition to its unique flavor, cumin is chock full of nutrients that are good for you. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. It also has powerful digestive properties that can help stimulate the production of enzymes to break down food and ease symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion. For these reasons, it’s no surprise that cumin has been a beloved spice for thousands of years – from the busy pakora stalls in India to the Athens gyro restaurants and LA taquerias.