Sunday, 1 April 2012

Snap, Crackle, Pop

I recently went to a cooking class and learned about the difference between buying pre-ground spices and grinding them yourself. The chef passed around a small container of pre-ground cumin seed and everyone thought it smelled delicious. 

Then he brought out some cumin seeds and brought them to life. That really made everyone smile and now I will ever seek out pre-ground cumin again. 

Want to toast your own cumin? It’s easier than you think and it smells a million times better than the pre-ground “dust”. 

First, put a small dry frying pan on high heat and put in the amount of cumin seeds you want use for your recipe.  

Then just wait, watch, and listen because your seeds will begin to toast and sing the song of Rice Crispies. 

Shake the pan ever once and awhile and wait for the magic to start. Snap! Crackle! Pop! And they’re done, about 7-8 minutes. 

Empty the now darker seeds into a mortar and pestle and grind away. 

The grinding step was what made me not want to bother grinding my own cumin. I thought it would take a lot of hard muscular work, but the seeds were ground in less than a minute!

Now it’s time to make something yummy with your freshly ground cumin. I love this recipe for Spiced Lentil Soup and I am sure you will too!

Spiced Lentil Soup - serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric 
12 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups red lentils
4 cups chicken broth, homemade or purchased
3 cups water
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional, but oh so good!)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped (for a garnish)

1. In a large soup pot on medium heat, cook the onions and ginger in the oil until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. 

2. Add the cumin and turmeric and stir. 

3. Add the carrots, lentils, broth, and water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. 

4. Once the soup reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes or until the veggies are soft. 

5. Puree with an immersion blender, add cream (if using) and ladle into bowls. 

6. Sprinkle a little fresh mint on top of the soup and enjoy!

Topping this soup with finely chopped, fresh mint is amazing! It really makes the soup taste like the middle east :)

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