Jeera: Winnowing The Seeds
Did you know Cumin is the second most popular spice in the world, right after black pepper? I didn’t and considering it occurs like a leitmotif in every Indian meal, it shouldn’t have been that shocking! And we’re not the only people who find the spice an indispensable flavoring agent. Mexican dishes are loaded with it.
The small seeds we cavalierly throw on hot oil before the start of every recipe are actually dehydrated fruits of the plant. The plant, which by the way belongs to the same family as parsley, is rooted out – tiny white-pink flowers and all and left to dry. The seeds are winnowed by beating the dried husk with sticks.
Why Use Cumin: Benefits of the Seed of Good Digestion
Cumin is like tiny pockets of sweet-smelling wonder. How many spices do you think can brag being mentioned in not one but two ancient tomes? A native of Egypt, Jeera is one of the few spices you’ll find mentioned in Ayurveda and the Bible.
Mentions aside, it is the cooling effect of the seed that makes it a staple. I love adding the aromatic seed in every curry because it’s phenomenal for the digestion and ramping up metabolism. How does it do that? The elliptical seeds are filled with Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron and Potassium, all of which help in absorbing food nutrients.
And, because jeera enhances digestive fire, it also relieves flatulence. If you suffer from acidity, try eating cumin mixed with coriander and ghee every day. If you rather prefer something liquid, then have water infused with jeera (think: detox water).
Jeera: A Quick How-To
I deplore to say it, but cooking with cumin has me stifling yawns of gargantuan dimensions. Why you ask? Well, it’s the repetitiveness. You add oil, warm it and then sprinkle the spice on it. So, I thought why not take a ride on the wild side.
With that in mind, here are some out-of-the-box recipes in which I’ve used the bitter yet warm flavored spice in a truly unconventional way. Each one is more interesting than the one before; and if I may say so, very delicious.
- Mango Raita flavored beautifully with powder of roasted cumin. Grounding the seed makes the spice stronger and toasting accentuates the taste. For a hot day, it is the perfect cooling garnish.
- Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish that brings together the juicy goodness of tomato with the richness of poached eggs. Sprinkled in it a bit of cumin to make them taste just right.
- Mango Avocado Salsa is for the times you want something fresh and healthy. Season it with cumin and you’ll be constantly reaching for one more chip.
- And yes, because it feels incomplete not to add an Indian dish, try this Sabudana Khichdi recipe loaded with cumin.
Tasha’s Inside Tip
Instead of adding cumin at the start, drizzle it at the end. Heat the seeds in ghee or oil and then pour it over your cooked vegetable!