1. Rinse asparagus, then snap off and discard tough stem ends. Cut stalks diagonally into 2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups.
2. Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add cumin and stir until seeds are a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Stir in garlic and turmeric; add asparagus and stir until coated. Pour in 3 tablespoons water.
3. Cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp to bite, 3 to 4 minutes. Season the asparagus to taste with salt. Pour into a serving bowl.