The Spy Who Cumin From the Cold

I’ve been having an addiction problem recently; I just can’t seem to quit sourdough bread. Practically every breakfast place in London has an artsy chalkboard “specials” menu boasting any variety of mushrooms, poached egg, smoked salmon, avocado, all resting comfortably on a hefty slice of sourdough. The horrifying thing is that these restaurants charge ten pounds for one slice of slightly dressed up bread, and often I am left starving and penniless for the rest of the day.

Like Alec Leamas, the protagonist in John LeCarre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, I have trouble keeping up with London prices. I know how quickly transportation can suck up funds, switching from tube to taxi to bus depending on worker strikes (or trying to shake agents tailing you). By the time Sunday comes around, I’m not eager to spend my remaining pennies on a meal I can clean up in three bites.

And so, for the same price, I’ve set out to produce an appetizer that can feed about six people. This spiced dip has elements of espionage: bringing heat, but in a very subtle way. The flavors seem sweet at first, but a powerful kick catches you off guard. Using an entire loaf and minimal (yet flavorful) ingredients, I can continue to fuel my bread addiction and feel a bit better about my spending habits.


Cumin-spiced vegetable dip:

Sourdough loaf, sliced

2 eggplants

1 red bell pepper

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp cumin

4 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper


1. Slice sourdough loaf into quarter inch-thick pieces. Lay on baking sheet and drizzle with half of olive oil, then sprinkle with half of cumin, salt, and pepper. Bake in 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes (until bread is golden brown and toasty). Set aside to cool.

2. Peel eggplant and cut into quarter inch-thick disks. De-seed pepper and cut into quarters. Toss eggplant, pepper, and peeled garlic clove in remaining olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Turn oven up to 400 degrees and roast vegetables for 8-10 minutes (until tender and turning brown).

3. When vegetables are cooked, peel skin from pepper and put in food processor with eggplant. Blend to desired consistency (from chunky to smooth). Season with salt to taste, and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Enjoy cumin dip with John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, and check in at for future recipes and book reviews!


3 thoughts on “The Spy Who Cumin From the Cold

  1. zanyzigzag says:

    Totally understand the sourdough addiction! Did you make your own bread for this recipe or just buy a loaf? I haven’t tried making it yet myself, still slightly intimidated by it!

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