Homemade Ground Cumin Powder - How to make, Use and store Ground Cumin -Bhuna Jeera. More insightful information about this heavily used Indian spices.
What is Cumin Powder
Ground, blended dried, toasted cumin or Cumin seeds, also called Jeera power, it is one of the main indian Spices.
In india, Jeera or Cumin is used in many forms.The whole seed is used while tempering , the ground version is added in curries and roasted ground cumin is used as a condiment or a sprinkler, especially on chaats.
I can bet you a thousand dollars that it's there in every curry you have ever had.
Chaats like this Edamame chaat and my easy papdi chaat dip , boondi raita and Tamarind Chutney all need roasted cumin in them. Just by dry roasting cumin, you can enhance the taste and aroma by a 1000% !
Why make at home?
You could just buy packaged ground cumin. And in most cases they will be absolutely fine. In fact if I was not cooking indian food so often, I might opt to buy store bought ground cumin.
But I have always seen my mom and my grand ma and now my mother in laws and her mom too do this at home. I could be due to any of the below factors.
- Easy to make
- Pure - Free of impurities
- Fresh is always better- the smell ,Vibrance and taste are always better with fresher ingredients
- It's cost effective when you buy seeds in bulk instead of buying smaller packs of ground cumin powder. Plus all that plastic!
Where is Cumin Used
Cumin powder is used extensively in north indian dishes- at times its the main ingredient especially in potato frys , sometime it's the finishing sprinkler like in chaats and imli chutney.
It is one of the "spices" in the curry powder that's widely used outside of india. In India, most folks prefer to keep their spices separate in a spice box. This allows them to change the proportions and combinations.
Though it's safe to say, cumin powder goes in almost all curries.
How to use Cumin Powder
Cumin powder can be added while tempering or later while simmering the curry.
A lot of times, it's added several times during the process of cooking.
Bhuna -When cumin is added after you have browned the onions. With this approach, the cumin gets mixed up in the curry(or dish) you are making. It's sort of like sum of the parts than separate. It also thickens the gravy.
Simmering -When added from the top, when the curry or dish is simmering, the cumin is much more noticeable as it has not had the time to simmer and mesh with the rest. Some dishes like Palak Paneer call for this approach.
Sprinkler - A heavily roasted cumin thats been powdered or pounded, is added as a finisher along with black salt and toasted ajwain.
Cumin Powder substitute
Frankly, cumin powder is the foundation of indian cooking. So my suggestion is to either use it or omit it all toghether.
But in a pinch , there are a few substitutes that you can use:
- Coriander powder: Coriander powder can be used as a substitute for cumin powder in most recipes. It has a similar warm, earthy flavor and pairs well with other spices commonly used in Indian and Mexican cuisine.
- Garam masala: Garam masala is a spice blend commonly used in Indian cuisine that contains coriander powder along with other spices like cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. If you have garam masala on hand, you can use it as a substitute for coriander powder.
- Whole Cumin Seeds- The flavor is same but the texture will differ.
Coriander vs Cumin powder
Coriander powder is often paired with cumin powder in Indian cuisine, as they complement each other's flavors. The combination of the two is used in a variety of dishes, including curries, marinades, and spice blends.
Coriander powder has a slightly sweet and citrusy flavor with a mild, pleasant aroma. Cumin powder, on the other hand, has a warm and earthy flavor with a slightly bitter taste and a pungent aroma.
Coriander Powder is a lot more commonly used than ground cumin. Cumin is usually used in it's whole form rather than powder.
How to make Cumin Powder
Step 1: Toast
Use a heavy bottomed pan- it can get burn quickly. Toast it while moving it around on low heat.
Toasting also reduces the water ; makes it last longer. It also releases extra flavor.
Step 2: Grind it
Transfer the cumin seeds to a blender or a coffee grinder.
Let the seeds cool a bit before proceeding to blend them.
Pulse it a couple of times to get a coarse consistency. You can also store them at this stage and pound them in mortar and pestle as and when needed.
If you like a fine powder of cumin seeds, blend it for a 1-2 minutes.
Storage & Shelflife
Store the ground cumin in an airtight container.
Ground cumin will possibly last for 3-4 months in an air tight container.
If you see the coriadner powder forming clumps, its time to get rid of it.
Bhuna Jeera Masala for Chaats
This is my favourite indian condiment. More so that chaat masala also!
It needs only a few spices but the main thing in this masala is roasting the cumin till its almost black. Yes.It's dark dark brown. That's what you need.
You will need
- 1 tablespoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Black or pink salt
- 1 teaspoon Ajwain or Carrom Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorn
Toast the cumin till its popping and almost black. Do this at low- medium flame.
Once the cumin is roasted, remove it from the pan and let it cool. Add the Ajwain and peppercorn- roast them slightly- about 20-30 seconds.
Now either coarsely pound everything together or blend it in the blender.
This spice mix is almost black in color. This is the finishing spice mix on your chaats, raitas and imli chutney.
Roasting Spices- Roast spices separately or roast similar sized spices together.
Garam Masala - Cumin is one spice that's added to garam masala.
Indian Dishes it's used in
- 2 Cups Cumin
- Toast the cumin seeds on low- medium heat till you can smell the aroma.
- Let it cool down slightly.
- for a Coarse Powder -Pulse it a couple of times in the blender
- For a Fine Powder -Blend it for 20-30 seconds in the blender
- Store in an Air Tight container for upto 6 months