Caraway (Carum carvi) has tiny, crescent-shaped fruits (commonly called seeds); their colour is warm brown with pale yellow edges. Caraway seeds have a warm, earthy, robust flavour with an edge of sharp bitterness and a hint of anise. Caraway is the most typical spice of northern, central, and eastern Europe, found in the cooking of Germany, Holland, Hungary, Russia, Sweden, and the former Yugoslavia. Caraway was believed to prevent lovers from straying, and for this same reason it was fed to homing pigeons to encourage them to return to their coops.
Caraway seeds are commonly sprinkled on top of Jewish-style rye bread and are used to flavour kümmel, a German sweet liqueur, and Scandinavian aquavit. Caraway gives southern German and Austrian foods, from breads and cheeses to roast pork and vegetables like turnips and potatoes, their characteristic flavour; it’s used in similar ways in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. Caraway is best suited to savoury foods, though it’s also sprinkled on spice cakes and added to cookie dough. The use of caraway jumps from central Europe to North Africa, especially Tunisia, skipping southern Europe, where it is practically unknown. In Tunisia, caraway is essential to harissa, a fiery chilli and garlic paste.
- Other Names
- Alcaravea or carvi (Spanish); alcaravia (Portuguese); caro or carvi (Italian); carvies; cumin des prés or grains de carvi (French); hom pom (Thai); karawiya (Arabic); karo or karvi (Greek); karvia (Hebrew); kiml (Yiddish); kisibiti (Swahili); kümmel (German); saksankumina tmin (Russian); shia jeera or vilayati jeera (Hindi); wild cumin; yuan sui (Chinese)
- Dutch caraway is considered to be of top quality. Most caraway is sold as whole seeds; if a recipe calls for ground caraway, grind the seeds in small amounts using a clean coffee grinder.
Season sauerkraut dishes with caraway seeds.
Serve Muenster cheese sprinkled with caraway seeds.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Spice
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