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How to Toast Cumin Seeds

Bring Out the Nutty Flavor of Cumin Seeds By Toasting Them

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Toasting your own whole cumin seeds is easy and a great way to add a kick of flavor to dishes. The earthy, rich, slightly smoky flavor of toasted cumin seeds is great sprinkled on almost any dish that contains ground cumin and a tasty way to add a teeny bit of crunch to salads or soups.

1. Start With Whole Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

Whole cumin seeds, as opposed to ground cumin, are increasingly available at grocery stores. Look in Mexican or Latin food sections, health food stores, and bulk spice sections.

2. Put Cumin Seeds In a Hot Frying Pan

Toasting Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

Heat a small skillet or frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot simply add the cumin seeds - no oil - all at once.

3. Shake Those Cumin Seeds!

Cooking and Shaking Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

Shake the pan to keep the cumin seeds moving and cook - shaking pretty much constantly - until they darken slightly and the lovely earthy aroma of taosted cumin seeds wafts through your kitchen, about 1 minute.

4. Remove Cumin Seeds From Pan

Toasted Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

As soon as they are toasted, transfer the cumin seeds to a bowl or mortar and pestle so they cool quickly and stop cooking.

5. Crush Cumin Seeds

Crushing Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

You can use the toasted cumin seeds whole, or you can bring out even more flavor by crushing them slightly in a mortar and pestle. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, put the cumin seeds in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pan.

You can also make your own toasted ground cumin by whirling the toasted cumin seeds in a clean scrupulously clean coffee grinder (wipe out any coffee grounds, grind 1/4 cup of rice, discard, and wipe clean before grinding spices) or spice grinder.

6. Crushed, Toasted Cumin Seeds

Crushed Cumin Seeds
Photo © Molly Watson

Lightly crushed, toasted cumin seeds can be used to garnish soups and salads, or sprinkled on pretty much any dish that contains ground cumin. I particularly like them in this Fattoush Salad, sprinkled into Beet & Cabbage Borscht, or in Guacamole.

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