Cooking & Recipes

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Cooking With Spices: Cumin

cooking with spices cumin

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) is part of the same flowering plant family as caraway, dill and parsley. The cumin seed is native to the East Mediterranean and India, and has been revered by both cooks and healers for centuries. In Egypt it was used as currency to tithe to priests, as a culinary spice and as a preservative agent to mummify pharaohs. The vaguely peppery flavor of cumin made it popular in the days of spice-trading ships linking Europe and Asia, as it was a good substitute for rare and expensive black pepper. Cumin became recognized as a symbol of fidelity and love, playing a ceremonial role in weddings and other rituals, and was thought to have aphrodisiac properties.

Today cumin is closely associated with Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines and is one of the main components of curry powder.

Medicinally, cumin and its seeds have been used historically to treat digestive upset. Recent research has looked at the health benefits of cumin, including cumin’s ability to stimulate secretion of pancreatic enzymes necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Cumin is also an excellent source of iron, making it a good metabolic support for efficient energy production and robust immunity.

Nutritionally, in addition to being an excellent source of iron, cumin seeds are also a good source of manganese, calcium and magnesium.

As a culinary spice, cumin is available in whole seed and ground form. The whole seed is oblong in shape with longitudinal ridges, and yellow-brown in color similar to caraway seeds. It maintains its flavor in storage longer than ground cumin, and is easily ground with a mortar and pestle. Whole seeds should be lightly roasted before use in recipes to get the best flavor and aroma. When kept in a tightly sealed glass jar away from heat and light, whole seed cumin will last for up to a year, while ground cumin will last up to six months.

Cumin can add a complex, savory undertone to a variety of dishes, including meats, stews, chilis, vegetables, rice, pasta, and legumes. It can also be used in warm beverages to add a spicy kick.

Dr. Weil's take:
When cooking beans, add a few cumin seeds to the water to help reduce the gas-producing properties associated with legumes. Cumin adds a distinctive flavor to Mexican cuisine and is a staple in my kitchen. I never make lentil soup without cumin powder. Paired with citrus, it brightens grilled fish and makes egg dishes extraordinary. Toss a little cumin, olive oil and chopped garlic into plain couscous for a quick and tasty side dish.

Try these recipes with cumin:

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here