Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to East India. The English "cumin" derives from the French "cumin", which was borrowed indirectly from Arabic 'Kamm┼źn' via Spanish 'comino' during the Arab rule in Spain in the 15th century.
The spice is native to Arabic-speaking Syria where cumin thrives in its hot and arid lands. Cumin seeds have been found in some ancient Syrian archaeological sites. The word found its way from Syria to neighbouring Turkey and nearby Greece most likely before it found its way to Spain. In Northern India and Nepal, cumin is known as 'jeera' or 'jira', while in Iran and Pakistan it is known as 'zeera'. Cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in colour, and larger than caraway or the fennel seed - spices that are sometimes confused with it. The seeds come in three colors: amber, white or black. Amber is most widely available, but the black has such a complex flavor it should not be substituted for the other two. Cumin is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, and is one of the main ingredients in garam masala powder (Also called curry powder in the US).
This recipe is fragrant and tasty. Try serving the rice with a meat curry or chickpea stew!

Cumin Rice:
Serves 2-3

1 cup basmati rice (wash and drain)
pinch of turmeric (optional)
1.5 cups water
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 minced or thinly sliced onion
1-2 green chillis slit (thai or jalapeno)
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
1/2 " whole Cinnamon stick
1 tsp canola or olive oil
8 - 10 cashew nuts
Salt to taste
A handful of Cilantro leaves
lime juice (optional)

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cumin seeds, and turmeric (if using) & fry for few seconds. Stir in the onions and green chilli and saute until the onions are transparent.
Add the rice, water and salt, and mix well. After it comes to a boil, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook on low until the rice is done. Fluff the cumin rice with a fork and garnish with roasted cashews and cilantro leaves, and squeeze some lime juice over before serving.

Authors Note:
If you do not want to chew the whole spices while you eat, take them out before you serve the rice. however, keep in mind that they must be fried before the rice is added, so don't try the little muslin bag trick. Serve hot with a curry or meat stew.

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