Cumin is a spice that is used in many countries around the world, but in particular in India, The Middle East, North Africa and Mexico. It is also added to some European cheeses.

It is used either as a seed or ground and is said to be the second most popular spice after black pepper, as it is often added to curries and can be used as one of the spices in the filling for samosas. Cumin also goes very well with vegetables, and a vegetarian strudel can be made by cooking together butternut squash, onions, lentils, ground cumin (or cumin seeds) and thyme before wrapping them in filo pastry and baking. Make chilli beef pies and flavour the filling with both chilli and ground cumin before topping with puff or shortcrust pastry.

Why not make Curried Corn Bread, by adding ground cumin to gently softened onions, along with turmeric and a little chilli, then mixing with the flour, corn meal (or polenta), bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk. White bread can also be given a different flavour by adding ground cumin to the flour or you could make Cumin Onion Bread by adding it to sweated sliced onions and adding to the bread mixture.

Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Foodand Wine