Cumin for Breakfast

Universal spice, for every meal of the day

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By David Hammond

Cumin seems to be an almost universal spice. A long-time native of the Mediterranean region – it's even mentioned in the Bible (Isaiah 28:27) – cumin has been favored in Egyptian and Middle Eastern cuisine since at least 2,000 B.C., and it's frequently found in Chinese, Persian, and Turkish recipes. Voyagers from Spain and Portugal introduced it to New World, and it's a predominant flavor in many Mexican dishes.

In Morocco, cumin is an everyday condiment, set on the table along with salt and pepper and added to many dishes, including breakfast.

I've become a fan of cumin on scrambled eggs. The way this morning meal is prepared up and down Morocco, the eggs are scrambled and when they're almost done (and they're usually done rather wet), they're sprinkled with cumin. Fantastic.

We become used to pretty much salt and pepper (and, for the more adventurous, hot sauce) on our morning eggs, but cumin is an excellent addition and it confers a slightly exotic edge on an otherwise pedestrian daily meal.

Penzey's carries cumin from India. You can get it whole or ground, but whole is definitely the way to go –and if you don't have a spice grinder (or, like us, a small mortar and pestle) you should really get one. On average, spices have a shelf life of about two years (some would say much less), and buying cumin and other spices "whole" – and grinding them at home – is one way to ensure that they stay fresh until you need them.

Try cumin on eggs.

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