Cumin seeds, also known as cumin or jeera, are the small, dried, ridged seeds of a herbaceous umbellifer Cuminum cyminum, indigenous to Egypt. Cumin seeds have a noticeable aroma and a distinctive warm, earthy taste with bitter notes.
Cumin is a global spice, used in cuisines around the world including Indian, Latin American and Middle Eastern. In Indian cookery, cumin is a core spice, used in spice mixtures including garam masala and Bengal’s panchpuran.
A simple, effective way to enhance cumin’s flavour is to dry-roast the seeds before cooking by heating them gently in dry frying pan, stirring now and then, until fragrant. Use cumin seeds in curries, stews, tarka dals and pickles.
Draw inspiration from the Dutch habit of using cumin to flavour Gouda, by adding dry-fried cumin seeds to rich, savoury cheese biscuits or use dry-fried cumin and chopped fresh mint to lassi, the Indian natural yoghurt drink.