JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cumin in beetroot soup

I've never really liked cumin. Until last night. We went to a lovely birthday dinner for Lucius's old friend Tim: old friends, good conversation, good food.

We started with beetroot soup, its jewel colour set off by the emerald blue ring round the soup dishes. The cumin emphasised the sweetness of the beet. It wasn't harsh or overwhelming, which is how cumin often tastes on my palate.

I like to think of myself as a competent cook, and I'm not heavy-handed with spices, so I think it must be a failure of shopping rather than cooking. I've looked up cumin, and have found what I think must be the cause of the trouble ... Wikipedia says that the strong, warm aroma (is) due to their abundant essential oil content. So dry frying the seeds before grinding them is clearly important - and keeping a fresh fresh stock of seeds is obviously essential. We're just not eating it fast enough!

Time to go shopping, I think! Some corners are not worth cutting.

PS as soon as I finished writing this post, just as I was about to hit the publish button, it occurred to me that I ought to be able to grow cumin ... it's a member of the parsley family, and that grows well in this garden, if I can keep the rabbits away. There's nothing in any of my gardening books about cumin (this PS is the fruit of half an hour's happy browsing!). So I thought I'd try one last place ... in the next village is one of the prettiest and best of nurseries, the Herb Farm. I telephoned, and the owner answered the phone. No, they didn't grow it any more, because it never sold, but yes, they have seed.

And for the horticulturally-minded amongst you, like parsley, it needs a warm soil to germinate, and germination takes a while.

This has just turned into a post for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Rachel's Bite


Kalyn Denny said...

Very interesting. Never heard of growing cumin, but of course it's a seed so you should be able to grow it. Keep us posted.

Also, love the photo of you in the post below with your daughter! Just gorgeous, both of you.

Joanna said...

Thanks, Kalyn

I'll keep you posted about the cumin ... I don't think it will be very strong, even if I can get it to grow (although basil and other "hot" herbs grow fine, so perhaps it will be okay). Watch this space!


Katie Zeller said...

I just got a book on spices - I'm familiar with most of the leafy herbs but not seeds. I've never really used it either and decided I should expand my culinary horizons so, naturally, I bought a book. And now first hand experience ... and I'll go throw my 3 year old cumin seeds out, buy some new and give them a try

Cottage Smallholder said...

Ah Ha, you have given me an answer to Danny's aversion to cumin. I'm going to try and grow this too. Thanks.

Joanna said...

I sowed the seeds last night, spotting on the packet that they should be sown in April for a September harvest. But I think it will be all right, because a) the advice on the packets is often wrong, and b) I find things catch up pretty quickly at this time of year (I am an experienced running-to-catch-up gardener - disorganised, in other words!)

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a beetroot week as I'm reading about it all over the place.

One of my favourite recipes is a beetroot and tomato curry that also features cumin. You're right there's something special about the combination of the two.

Joanna said...

Kathryn, I LOVE the sound of the beetroot curry - any chance of letting me have the recipe?


katie said...

I am trying to grow cumin this year for the first time. I have four plants that I just transplanted into the garden yesterday. They are beautiful, feathery - reminiscent of dill or fennel - plants and seem quite happy so far.

And speaking of beetroot recipes, this is one of my favorites: Spaghetti with Beetroot Pesto, from Field to Feast.