When talking about Cumin in our cooking classes, we always say, “it’s the original smoky-smelling spice.” If you open a bottle and take a big whiff, the aroma will transport you to another country. Why? You can be cooking almost any cuisine and see cumin in the list of ingredients.  Cumin has been around for a long time, too. Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and Iran, it was mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

A member of the parsley family, cumin has a long history of medicinal properties within Indian cuisine. Medical research has just begun to suggest the benefits of cumin to the digestive system. The spice appears to stimulate the liver to secrete more bile, which aids in the breakdown of fats and the absorption of nutrients, leading to healthier digestion. Cumin also has beneficial antioxidants like vitamin-C and vitamin-A.

Spanish and Portuguese colonist brought cumin to the Americas – the native Indian cuisines quickly adopted it to add to their cuisine. Cumin is used both in ground forms and as seeds, like we are doing in this week’s Spicy Tuesday recipe. (We buy organic cumin because the spice is often irradiated.) We hope you like this quick and easy bread as much as we do!

Makes 1 loaf – Double the recipe to make a sheet tray like the picture!

3 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 TB Sugar

2 Tsp Baking Powder

2 Tsp Cumin

1/2 Tsp Dry Mustard
1 ½ Tsp Sea Salt
2 Large Eggs and 2 Large Egg Whites, beaten together
1 1/2 Cups Light Buttermilk
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp Cumin Seed, toasted in a small dry skillet over medium heat until aromatic

1 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt

1 Tsp Sumac*
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper, set aside. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cumin, mustard and salt, season with pepper. Using a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk and oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring batter until just moistened.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with the toasted cumin seed, coarse sea salt and the sumac. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes clean, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes.  Remove the bread from pan and cool completely on wire rack before cutting.

*Sumac, the other spice used here is a cooking essential in the Middle East. Slightly tart and acidic it adds a pleasant lemony flavor and works as a beautiful red garnish, too!

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