Food glossary

A variety of spices


These long, thin brown-yellow seeds originate from a herbaceous plant that is part of the parsley family. The Cuminum cyminum plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean but is now popular in northern Africa, India and Mexico. The seeds have an earthy, spicy sweet flavour and when ground can have a bitter taste. If a recipe calls for ground cumin, for the best flavour buy cumin seeds and grind them as and when you need them

Uses: Cumin is used in a wide variety of highly-spiced savoury dishes from meat dishes, including curries, to lentil and cheese-based dishes. To bring out the flavour dry-fry the seeds in a heavy-based frying pan for a few minutes until their heady aroma is released. Use the seeds whole or ground. Cumin is often combined with coriander seeds, which counteracts its bitterness, in soups, stews and rice dishes.

To store: Keep in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.