The Benefits Of Cumin
Origin and description of cumin
Herbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of your dishes, but did you know that many of them contain important nutritional benefits as well? Cumin is the seed of a small plant that grows in hot countries like India, North Africa, China and the Americas. It is hairy and brownish in color and tapers off at both ends. Also known as jeera , it resembles caraway seeds but is lighter in color, and unlike caraway, has bristles which are not visible to the naked eye. Other names are Anise acre (not to be confused with anise), Cumin Acre, Cummin and Sweet Cumin.
How to buy and store cumin
Cumin is readily available in most supermarkets in the West. If you buy it in powdered form, check the expiration date as cumin powder does not have a very long shelf life. Whether you buy it in powder or seed form, it should be stored in an airtight, glass container and kept in a cool place.
Cumin contains iron which increases hemoglobin in the blood. It also contains zinc, manganese and antioxidants such as eugenol and limonene, which fight tumors.
Cumin has a very strong flavor and is used in many spicy Indian, Eastern, Mexican and Spanish dishes. It is also an ingredient in curry and other spice mixtures. Use cumin to spice up your stews, especially chicken, grilled dishes, such as lamb, and even rice and beans. Cumin is a must have in chile con carne, enchiladas with chili sauce and chutneys. In Europe, cumin is used to flavor certain cheeses such as German Munster. When burned with wood it is used to smoke certain cheeses and meats. Because of its spicy flavor it adds zing to some vegetarian recipes like the one below.
Aloo (Potato) Pies
2 c. all purpose flour 2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt ¾ c. water
4 medium potatoes salt to taste
Black pepper ½ tsp ground cumin
Oil for frying Hot pepper if liked
1. Mix flour, b. powder, salt and water and knead lightly; set aside to rest.
2. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, peel and mash well, season with salt, plack pepper, hot pepper if used and ground, roasted cumin. Prepare cumin by placing the seeds in a dry frying pan on the fire. Stir seeds until they all become dark and give off a spicy aroma. Remove from the fire, turn them on to a wooden board and grind with a rolling pin to a nice fine powder.
3. Divide dough into 9 balls, flatten into 4” circles and fill with potato; wet one edge of the dough with water, fold over and seal.
4. Fry in deep, hot fat until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.
You can get 12 pies if you make the balls smaller. If you are watching your calories or fat intake, you can bake these in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.
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