What is cumin?

What is cumin you may be wondering?

The page was revised by Dr Bernard Preston DC on 29th June, 2019.

Roasting cumin seeds

It's the day to make hummus; there's nothing unusual in that, since I do it at least twice a week. It normally takes about five minutes, but this morning it is going to be a little longer; I've run out of roasted cumin seeds.

Cumin is one of those special spices. I simply love it, but it loses its flavour quite quickly once crushed and exposed to air, so I roast and grind only a small amount of the seeds; enough perhaps for about two week's worth of hummus and Indian chicken.

Every time I make the chickpea paste with freshly roasted cumin I notice how much more flavoursome it is, and how it gets slightly bitter, unpleasantly so, when it's old. If one is going to go through all the effort of baking or cooking then, in my opinion, it's only worth the time if you use the best ingredients.

For five minutes of labour, hinting of the divine incense of heaven, this is definitely a must.

I buy a large packet of the seeds from the Indian spice shop; they call it jeera. Toss a few heaped tablespoons into a heavy frying pan, and turn the temperature up high for about two minutes, shaking it. Soon a crackling sound arises, and the most heavenly smoke reminding me of places like Delhi and Mombai.

Cumin burns easily so I keep shaking the pan and, when they start to darken and the smell is intense, filling the whole kitchen with a scent like incense, pour the seeds into the little spice blender. Turn the heat off sooner rather than later. Whirl it for a second, inhaling deep gulps of the fumes, and we're ready to make hummus. I could get high with a little help from friends like this.

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What is cumin?

Roasting cumin seeds vapour

What is cumin is in answer to a question about the ingredients to make your own authentic hummus recipe at home. It's an Indian spice that gives off a heavenly aroma when you're roasting it.

Having blended the cumin, it's best to preserve it immediately either by freezing in small containers, or I find it easier to simply cover the whole with olive oil. That will keep the air out, otherwise it starts oxidising immediately.

In fact if I had enough time on my hands, which I don't, I'd roast these cumin seeds each time I make our authentic hummus recipe. It definitely tastes better when fresh.

So, when faced with a need for cumin, roast only small quantities at a time. Certainly no more than in the blender below. The whole process after all takes less than ten minutes. Done once every couple weeks is hardly an undertaking if you want truly divine hummus with your green salad.

Blending roasted cumin seeds

Creating a divine green salad

Fresh cumin in quick hummus, makes for creating a divine green salad.

Fresh cumin in quick hummus makes for creating a divine green salad.

Enjoying eight coloured foods a day means a 35% lower all cause of death. The rich flavour that it gives a green salad is so good I would be tempted even if it shortened my life. They can be a little dull; it's the oily dips like hummus that promote better absorption of the carotenoids.

Those are the phytochemicals that reduce your chance of getting the dreaded lurgy. What is cumin is a central ingredient in your authentic chickpea dip.

Hummus with cumin and vegan seed bread

So, on top of all the greens, add as many coloured salads as you can lay your hands on; below are sweet peppers and tomatoes.


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Oh, and I think I can see a peppadew lurking next to the yellow paprika; they give your salad a little spice.

There are several different kinds of lettuce to be enjoyed, fresh coriander, parsley, and a couple of leaves of red sorrel at 7 o'clock.

Some cooks sprinkle paprika on the hummus; it looks very pretty, but if you look on your spice bottle you'll probably find you purchased it about seven years ago.

So I often take a mixture of peppadews, perhaps a little jalapeno and sweet red paprika, chop them very finely and spread it over what is really just a spicy garbanzo bean dip.

A divine green salad

Creating a divine green salad with plenty of extra colours is not that difficult.

I confess it; I am nutty about great tasting, slow food that can be made fast; those that are rich in the micronutrients like betaine that are so important for our well-being.

Authentic hummus recipe

The joy of our authentic hummus recipe is that with a little practice you can make it in only four minutes; what is cumin is a vital ingredient to be understood.

Then you have enough protein for your lunch without having hams and polonies and other processed meats; it's beyond debate, there's strong research proving they are a leading cause of metastatic disease. So says the World Health Organization.


We went to an Indian restaurant on Boxing Day and enjoyed the most incredible dish called Saag, made from spinach, kale, cumin and cashew nuts; I can't wait to try it. Not all Indian dishes are loaded with chili.

This great tasting Indian saag recipe is now a winner in our home; go light on the cumin.

Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston is a semi retired chiropractor with a passion for healthy living and leaving behind a habitable planet for our children's children. Soon there will be more plastic literally than fish in the sea. What is cumin is simply a small diversion every few weeks. 

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