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How To Tenderize Meat With Cumin Seeds

Samina.Tapia's picture

Cumin is an essential spice in Indian cooking but is also very popular in Asian, Middle Eastern, Cuban, Tex-Mex and Brazilian cooking. It is also used by the French to flavor their breads. Cumin has a distinct aroma but is often confused with caraway seeds. This beautiful spice is an essential ingredient in Garam Masala, Chili powder, curry powder, sofrito and many other spice mixes. The spice can be used in a ground powdered form or the seeds are added to dishes after broiling. Cumin is also very popular for its medicinal value. It is helps to soothe acute stomach problems and aids in digestion as well.


Scientific studies say that cumin also helps to break down foods or has a tenderizing effect on proteins. Cumin is often used to marinate meats and added to curries and stews.

Here is a simple way in which you can tenderize meat with cumin and also impart a lovely flavor to your dish. You will never want to use enzymatic tenderizers again!

  • You can use cumin in a yoghurt marinade. Yoghurt marinades work wonderfully on lamb, beef and chicken thighs. It has both the acidity and enzymes that help to tenderize meat without making it tough. Before adding the cumin to the yogurt, broil the seeds along with peppercorns, coriander seeds and red chilies till fragrant and then cool slightly before grinding the spices. Add this to the yogurt mixture along with garlic and ginger paste.
  • Add cumin to an acidic marinade. Vinegar, wine, lemon juice and olive oil marinades work well with pork and leaner meats fish, sea food and poultry. Add a bit of ground cumin to the marinade along with other herbs like rosemary, thyme, dill and a bit of crushed garlic.
  • Rub dry spices of very lean meats. Mix powdered cumin with paprika, cayenne and rub on the meat with along with ginger or garlic.
  • Always remember to marinate in a non-metallic dish. Glass bowls are best to use when marinating.
  • The time required for tenderizing. It will depend on the cut and type of meat.Lean meats should be marinated for 15 to 20 minutes while though meats may need at least 2 hours or overnight so that the flavors get deeply infused. When marinating tougher meats, I always place the marinated meat in a zip-log bag, which I throw into the refrigerator to prevent the meat from spoiling. It is easy to turn the meat in the bag every 30 minutes or so without dirtying your hands.
  • Slice boneless meat into strips or make slashes on larger cuts. This will ensure that the tenderizers and flavors make maximum contact with the meat. Poorly marinated meat becomes tender and juicy on the outside but the inside remains tough and lacks flavor.
  • Once your meat is marinated, you can broil, roast or barbecue the meat. I usually discard the marinade, or use it to baste if necessary. However avoid cooking the meat in the marinade.

Tenderizing meat with cumin will give a lovely rustic and earthy taste to your dish. I absolutely love the flavor and I am sure you will to as well.

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How To Tenderize Meat With Cumin Seeds