Monthly Archives: July 2018

Annato (Achiote)

Annato (Achiote)

Bixa orellana

Achiote, also known as Annatto, is the seed from the fruit of the evergreen shrub Bixa orellana. The reddish seeds are found in dry form, powder, paste or steeped in cooking oil or lard. The shrub is native to the tropical parts of the Americas including Mexico and the Caribbean. Achiote is an integral part of a spice mix called Sazón, very common in Latin cuisine.

Achiote is used to color confectionery, butter, smoked fish and cheeses like Cheshire, Leicester, Edam, and Muenster. Its scent is described as “slightly peppery with a hint of nutmeg” and flavor as “slightly nutty, sweet and earthy peppery”. It is mainly used to add color to your food.  In many Latin American kitchens, achiote is used to color rice, soups, stews, and meats. They may be added directly to a cooking liquid or infused in hot water until the desired color is obtained and then used for stocks or coloring rice. It is also common to fry the seeds in oil for a few minutes (best done in a covered pan as the hot seeds jump), then discard the seeds and use the oil.  It is excellent to help meats like chicken and pork to get a darker color when roasting or grilling. The seeds are also particularly associated with Filipino cuisine, in dishes like; ukoy, shrimp and sweet potato fritters; pipian, chicken and pork in an annatto oil sauce; and kari-kari, a brightly coloured vegetable and oxtail stew. Due to its main purpose of coloring food, paprika, turmeric or a mix of the two is a decent substitute.

It is also known as:

  • English: Achiote, Anatta, Annato, Annotta, Aploppas, Arnotta, Arnotto, Orellana, Orlean, Orleana , lipstick tree
  • French: rocou, roucou
  • Italian: annatto
  • Spanish: achiote, achote, annatto, onotto, urucu
  • Portuguese: anato, urucú, açafroa-do-Brasil, urucum
  • Caribbean: bija, bijol, foucou
  • Indian: latkhan, sendri
  • Tagalog: achuete, atsuwete, achwete, atsuete, echuete
  • German: annatto, orleanstrauch
  • Vietnamese: Hột điều màu, Điều nhuộm
  • Mandarin: yan zhi shu

Annatto was once used to control fevers, dysentery and kidney diseases. In India, the pulp is used as an insect repellent.

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Cumin

Cumin

Cuminum cyminum

Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a plant in the parsley family. The seed can be used whole or ground in a powder, which imparts a stronger flavor than when used whole. The flavor is accentuated when the seeds are toasted and then ground. It has a distinctive, slightly bitter yet warm flavor. It imparts an earthy, warming and aromatic character to food, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as spiced gravies such as curry and chili. It is also used as an ingredient in some pickles and pastries. It is often confused with caraway and anise.

Cumin can be found in some cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. Cumin is used mainly where highly spiced foods are preferred. It features in Indian, Eastern, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cuisines. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Tex-Mex or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, bahaarat and is used to flavor numerous commercial food products. In South Asian cooking, it is often combined with coriander seeds in a powdered mixture called dhana jeera.

It gives a bite when added to rice or corn muffins. Heat some garlic and cumin with olive oil and pour over your vegetables or potatoes.  Cumin works great on marinades for beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or pork. Add to your beans or stews.  Do you have a recipe that requires cumin, but are out of it? You could replace it with caraway seeds, ground coriander, chili powder, garam masala, curry powder or even taco seasoning.

It is also known as:

  • English: Anise Acre, Cumin Acre, Cummin, Sweet Cumin and White cummin
  • French: cumin
  • German: Kreuzkümmel, Romische Kümmel
  • Italian: cumino
  • Spanish: comino
  • Portuguese: cominho
  • Arabic: kammun, kemouyn
  • Indian: jeera, jeraka, jira, zeera, zira, sufaid…, safed…(white), kala…(black), kalonji (cf Nigella)
  • Indonesian: (d)jinten
  • Malay: jintan puteh
  • Sinhalese: cheeregum, jeera, su(du)duru
  • Tamil: cheeregum
  • Turkish: Kimyon, Acem Kimyonu, Kemmon

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Cumin has been used to aid digestion, improve immunity, treat skin disorders and insomnia.

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