|Caraway plant with fruits and flowers|
Caraway is the spice that gives Southern German and Austrian foods, be it meat,
vegetable or rye bread, their characteristic flavour. It is also popular in
Scandinavia and particularly in the Baltic states, but is hardly known in
Southern Europe. True caraway
aficionados use the whole fruits, but even the powder is
strongly aromatic. Caraway’s aroma does not harmonize with most other spices,
but its combination with garlic is effective and
popular in Austria and Southern Germany for meat (e. g., roast pork Schweinsbraten) and vegetables. German Sauerkraut (sour cabbage made by lactic fermentation) is always
flavoured with caraway (and juniper). Unfermented
boiled cabbage without caraway lacks character. Some cheese varieties from
Central Europe contain caraway grains; see also blue
|Flowering caraway plant|
Caraway is a controversial spice; to many, it appears dominant and disagreeable, especially to those who are not used to a cuisine rich in caraway. Usage of the ground spice is a working compromise; another method is wrapping the fruits in a small piece of linen cloth (or simply a tea bag) so that it can be removed before serving.
Caraway is of some importance in the cuisines of North Africa, mostly in Tunisia. Several recipes of Tunisian harissa [هريسة], a fiery paste made of dried chiles, call for caraway, and the same is true on a similar preparation found in Yemen, zhoug (see coriander).
Outside the indicated areas, caraway is rather uncommon. If you ever find
references to caraway in books about Middle East, Indian or Far East cooking,
then the most probable explanation is a translation mistake and you should
probably read cumin.
The same holds for the appearance of caraway
in several Bible translations (see pomegranate for
details). At last, there are some Indian cookbooks employing caraway for North
Indian foods, but I suspect that black cumin is
meant instead. While caraway does appear in Indian foods, it is only of marginal importance.