For a popular Arabic spice mixture

The spice cumin, indigenous to the east Mediterranean, features in many cuisines. Belonging to the parsley family (along with caraway and dill), cumin has reportedly been used in kitchens for several millennia. It was introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese colonists in the 15th Century in America.

Cumin today is an essential ingredient in South Asian, Latin American and African cuisines. It is used in cheeses such as Leyden; spice mixes and Indian preparations such as dals and kormas.

Cumin has long been known for its medicinal properties, especially on the Indian subcontinent where it is consumed as a digestive aid. It is also used to help control flatulence, nausea, diarrhoea and dyspepsia. Cumin water or tea is given as a curative for common cold. Along with high iron content, cumin is rich in the mineral magnesium, essential for promoting heart health, controlling blood pressure and aiding in calcium absorption.

Now, for a recipe.

Baharat

Baharat is an Arabic spice blend used as an all-purpose seasoning in Middle Eastern cuisines. While the blend varies from region to region with ingredients as varied as dried rose petals, mint and saffron, but it always includes black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cloves and is used in soup, stews and rubs.

Ingredients

Black peppercorns: 2 tbsp

Coriander seeds: 2 tbsp

Cumin seeds: 2 tbsp

Allspice: 1 tbsp

Cardamom seeds: t tsp

Whole cloves: 0.5 tsp

Cinnamon sticks: 4 (3 inch)

Sweet paprika: 2 tbsp

Grated nutmeg: 0.5 tsp

Method: Grind the whole spices using a mortar and pestle or spice mill. Add the paprika and nutmeg and mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The writer is the Executive Chef at Taj Coromandel

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