cumin seeds: 8 posts

Lentil Soup with Coriander, Cumin and Peanuts Recipe

Lentil soup and star fruit salad

The flavors of Gujarati cuisine made a strong impression on me during my first visit. Until I started exploring the Western region of India, which consists of the states of Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra, I had no idea what to expect. I suspected that the flavors would be very different from the Northern Indian fare one commonly finds in restaurants abroad, but I was unprepared for the diversity of tastes I was to encounter. It all started with a simple dish of dal, lentil soup, which is commonly served with rice towards the end of the meal. It looked unassuming—pale orange with green flecks of cilantro and black mustard seeds, but its sweet and tart flavors, with a delicate touch of toasted coriander and cumin, won me over immediately. It was simple, and yet elegant and memorable.

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Lagman Uzbek Lamb and Noodle Soup Recipe

When cumin hits hot oil, the scent that rises up is complex and rich. It hovers above the sizzling pan as a warm cloud, woody, crisp, with sweet clove and leather undertones. Cumin has a natural affinity for meat, cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, and acidic vegetable-fruit like eggplant and tomato. It enhances their flavors, while retaining its own unique character. One of the ways to experience cumin’s nuances is try Central Asian food.

Lagman

One of my favorites is lagman, a lamb and vegetable noodle dish. Its one of several signature Uzbek dishes, along with plov (lavish rice and lamb pilaf,) samsa (tandoor baked savory pastries,) manty (steamed dumplings,) and kebabs. Its origins lie further east, however. Brought to Central Asia by the Uyghurs, Chinese speaking Muslims, this dish shares many similarities with East Asian noodle soups. Yet, the spice and herb combination makes it unique.

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Musabbaha Whole Chickpea Hummus Recipe

Hummus, a creamy paste of chickpeas and tahini scented with lemon and garlic, is rightly one of the most beloved Middle Eastern dishes. Similar chickpea pastes flavored with cinnamon, ginger, parsley and olive oil are mentioned in medieval Arab cookbooks as early as the 13th century. In recent years, hummus and baba ghanoush have become the emblematic dishes for pan-Middle Eastern cuisine. Yet, despite its ubiquity, when properly made, hummus offers one of the most comforting and satisfying dishes with its complex interplay of flavors and rich contrasts between spice, tartness and creaminess. In addition to the commonly encountered creamy hummus, Middle Eastern cuisine offers a number of interesting regional variations, out of which the Syrian-style hummus, musabbaha, is one of my absolute favorites.

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