If you’ve been using regular ground cumin in my recipes that call for roasted cumin (bhuna jeera powder), oh my gosh, you’ve been missing out, my friend.
The two spices are nothing alike… despite coming from the same spice, of course, heh. They’re like siblings – sure, you see the obvious family resemblance, but man, are they different. One is mild-mannered, and the other, super intense and, well, a little wild. (I’m definitely thinking of my two little boys as I write this, lol).
When it comes to spices, they can take on a completely different character depending on how you treat them. Leave them whole, and they’re mild and fragrant; crush them, and they come back with a vengeance; toast them, and they transform. (And now I feel like I’m describing superheroes… cumin to the rescue!).
Roasted cumin is well known for its use in raita (yogurt), chaat (Indian street/snack food), and chana masala, but it’s used in many other dishes as well. I’m sharing a bunch of recipes that call for it below. But first… let’s talk about how cumin and roasted cumin are different.
How is Roasted Cumin different from regular cumin?
Okay, so we have cumin seeds, right? When we grind cumin seeds, we get cumin powder. When we dry roast cumin seeds in a hot pan and wait for the seeds to turn dark brown and THEN grind them, we have roasted cumin powder.
Roasted cumin powder, also known as bhuna jeera powder, is highly aromatic and has a more intense flavor than regular unroasted cumin. It’s a bit nutty and adds a unique flavor to recipes – one that’s kind of hard to describe.
You know how dried fenugreek leaves can transform butter chicken? Like, you think butter chicken is good, but then you add those dried leaves, and it turns the dish into something unbelievably good? Roasted cumin powder has that same ability – to totally transform a dish. Once you use it, you realize what you’ve been missing and can’t do without it. A few spices have this special superpower, and bhuna jeera happens to be one of them.
Recipes calling for Roasted Cumin Powder (Bhuna Jeera Powder):
- Chana Masala
- Corn Kadai (Corn Masala)
- Beet Raita
- Tangy Tomato Corn Soup
- Achari Aloo Baingan
- Arbi (Taro Root Delight)
- Aam Panna (Green Mango Juice)
- Mushroom do Pyaza
- Murgh Musallam
- Sookha Kala Chana
- Paneer Masala
- Bhindi do Pyaza
- Sookhi Dal
The great thing about bhuna jeera powder is that it’s straightforward to make. Get cumin seeds and toast them in a dry pan until they turn crisp and the color changes to a dark brown; then add them to a spice grinder and blend.
Do not let the cumin seeds turn black or get burnt. You can go easy on the dark brown if you’re concerned about burning the seeds, but getting them to a toasty dark brown without burning them is what I consider the roasted cumin sweet spot.
Give this spice a try and let me know what you think of it 🙂
- 1 cup cumin seeds or desired amount
- Heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast the cumin seeds for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color of the cumin changes to a dark brown.
- Turn off the heat and allow the cumin seeds to cool down.
- Place the cumin into a spice grinder and blend until smooth (you can also use a mortar pestle if you prefer).
- Store in an airtight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.