3 minutes Inspiration

Five Ways to Use: Cumin seeds

Not just for a curry, cumin seeds provide an extra dimension to your everyday menu. Always best lightly toasted in a pan before use, they release essential oils and give your dishes the nutritional benefit of vitamins and minerals such as iron. Cumin brings a familiar aroma and a warming spicy flavour to anything it is paired with.

Here, Connor McConville, chef lecturer at East Kent College, shares five fabulous ideas for incorporating the spice into dishes…1/ Cumin encrusted hake fillet
Toast a small handful of seeds in a pan over heat until oils start to appear and they give off a nice aroma. Sprinkle over the flesh of the hake keeping the pan to sear the fish skin side down. Finish in the oven and serve with some braised fennel and a simple butter sauce.2/ Lamb and cumin meatballs
Lamb and cumin go amazingly well together. Once again toast the seeds, add them to lamb mince along with some fresh chopped parsley, Dijon mustard and seasoning. Work the mince in your hands until everything is combined. Roll into balls, small for canapés or larger for a main course. Seal in a hot pan and finish in the oven. Great served with some mint yogurt.

3/ Cumin smoked wood pigeon
An excellent use of cumin seeds is in smoking. Combine a handful of seeds to some smoking chips and heat until the chips start to smoke. Place the pigeon breast in the smoker and smoke for about 15 minutes on heat. Turn off the heat and leave covered for a further 10 minutes. This should give you a nice medium rare pigeon breast with plenty of infused flavour. Try it with some pickled celeriac and plum purée.

4/ Cumin and mango ice cream
Toast the cumin seeds as normal, then use them to infuse your milk, getting the right level of flavour can be a bit trial and error. Bring the milk to the boil and add to your egg yolk/sugar paste. Return to the heat and bring to 82°C. Combine double cream and mango purée, add this to your cooled custard base. Churn in an ice cream mixer for about 30 minutes.

5/ Cumin and chilli chocolate brownie
Use toasted cumin seeds to infuse your melted chocolate and butter mix, leave covered in a warm place for about 30 minutes to get a good release of oils into the chocolate. Add chilli powder to the cocoa powder/flour mixture. Whisk whole eggs and sugar until you have a good amount of aeration, add chocolate and butter mix, then sift in the dry ingredients. Fold in to keep the air and bake for about 20 minutes. Top should crack slightly but still be slightly runny.

Connor trained in Australia and has worked in kitchens all over the world. He has been head chef of various Kent hotels and now works as a professional cookery lecturer at East Kent College, Folkestone. In his first year of teaching, he was very proud to see his students make the final of the Country Range Student Chef Challenge. He now works part-time, which has given him time to start his own private catering business.