I have heard native Indian chefs refer to cumin as the “bacon of India.” I always joke that they have not had real bacon when they make the comparison. Jokes aside, popped cumin seeds pack a penetrating, earthy, slightly nutty flavor punch that comes close to the strength of bacon — not to mention cumin is a powerful aid in digestion. Pasta is eaten more in India than you’d think, and it’s always embellished with a ton of spices and herbs. Both cumin and pasta pair well with cheese and eggs so in honor of Julius Caesar and the Ides of March this Friday the 15th I offer an homage to the classic Roman dish,Carbonara, albeit with a cumin twist.
makes ~4 servings
1 lb fresh spaghetti
Generous pinch turmeric
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp minced garlic
¾ cup dry white wine
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ serrano pepper, minced
1 tsp salt
3 whole farm fresh eggs
½ cup grated sharp cheese like parmesan or raclette
½ cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
Bring 2 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add salt and turmeric. Drop the spaghetti and cook it until done (unlike the Italian penchant for al dente pasta, I like my pasta fully cooked).
In a large saucepan heat up the olive oil until just shy of smoking and add the cumin seeds. They will pop and sizzle and almost immediately, add the minced garlic. Lower the heat within a few seconds then add the white wine, black pepper, minced serrano, salt. Return the heat to high and bring it to a boil. Once at a boil lower the heat and simmer until the alcohol has been cooked out of the wine and the sauce has reduced by about half.
As soon as the pasta is done, drain it. Do not rinse the pasta. Immediately while hot fold the pasta into the saucepan (the heat should be off) with the cumin seed wine sauce along with cheese and eggs. Fold in the parsley and serve.
ideas / variations
Timing is of the essence in this recipe since the hot pasta semi cooks the eggs with the cumin wine sauce without scrambling the eggs
Folding the eggs vigourously also helps reduce the chance of scrambling
If your looking for a bit runnier sauce, try saving some of the pasta water and incorporating it into the mixture while folding in the eggs and cheese.
Substitute cheese with toasted ground cashews or almonds
Try different pasta like linguini, or bucatini