Thursday, 27 February 2014

Indian Spices: Jeera (Cumin)

India's most popular chef - Sanjeev Kapoor calls cumin his favourite spice. This all-rounder spice of the Indian kitchen packs a nutty and peppery aroma that tingles your taste buds and makes your mouth salivate.

Indian Spices: Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds are most commonly used in Indian kitchens for tempering dals (lentil preparations), rice dishes and vegetables. Tempering is the first step of almost all savoury and main course dishes in Indian cuisine. It is done by heating a little oil and adding whole spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, whole dried red chillies, fenugreek seeds or herbs like curry leaves and allowing them to before adding raw, cut vegetables or boiled lentils for dal and dried spices to finish off the dish. 

Cumin powder is also popularly used as a dry spice powder in Indian cuisine. 

Indian Spices: Cumin Powder
Cumin powder is prepared by dry roasting cumin seeds on a low flame till they release a warm, nutty aroma (that spreads through the house and feels heavenly!). These are then dry ground in a grinder till they form a really fine powder. Cumin powder, like cumin seeds can be used to spice both dry vegetable dishes and gravy ones, dals (lentil preparations), rice dishes like pulaos and biryanis and even some forms of parathas (flatbreads). A dash of cumin powder can also be added to salads and cold buttermilk for that extra punch of earthy flavour!

Cumin seeds and cumin powder also form a part of various spice mixes used in Indian cuisine such as panch phoron (Bengali five-spice mix used for tempering), garam masala (Punjabi powdered spice mix), dhana-jeeru (everyday spice powder used in Gujarati kitchens made of corriander and cumin powders), goda masala (spice powder mix used in Maharashtrian kitchens) etc.

Cumin has a lot of health benefits. The most popularly known dadima ka nuskha (grandma's home remedy) is to munch on cumin or jeera goil (candy made from cumin) for aiding digestion. It provides relief from flatulence, nausea, stomach aches etc. Cumin is also had a lot during hot Indian summers for its cooling effects on the body.