There is hardly an Indian kitchen that does not have cumin or powdered cumin! Roasted cumin seeds or bhuna jeera powder is usually used to finish off the dish and for that extra depth of flavor as I do in this Indian yogurt sauce. Learn to make this easy spice powder in under 15 minutes. It is easy!
My pantry has cumin in all its avatars - whole cumin seeds, ground cumin, and then this roasted powdered cumin.
Cumin, as you may already know, is an important ingredient in many spice blends. In this homemade substitute for curry powder, jeera is an important ingredient. Another one is coriander cumin powder (dhana jeera powder) which is so handy when making curries and dals. Other spice blends in which cumin is an important ingredient are garam masala, curry powder, taco seasoning, and chaat masala to name a few.
What is Cumin?
Cumin is the aromatic seed of a plant that belongs to the parsley family called Cuminum Cyminum. A popular spice that is used in many cuisines around the world, cumin is a common spice used in Indian, Mediterranean, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisines. More about cumin.
Also known as jeera or zeera, there are mainly two types of cumin - the brownish-yellow ones (the most common store cupboard ingredient). The second variety is the black cumin (kala jeera or shahi jeera in Hindi) which has a more pungent aroma than the regular variety.
Health benefits of cumin
Of all the spices, this one is my favorite! Know for its distinct, earthy aroma, cumin is a highly revered spice in many parts of the world for its medicinal properties. Cumin is said to improve the sense of taste and digestion. According to Ayurveda, the ancient science of healing, cumin is nature's best overall tonic. In Sanskrit, cumin is called "jiraka", which literally translates to "one that helps digestion".
Cumin powder benefits? Well, it is also a rich source of iron and the best way to feed this spice to your baby!
What is cumin powder?
Cumin powder is unroasted whole cumin seeds that have been finely ground to a powder in a coffee blender or spice blender. Homemade cumin powder is a lot more flavorful than store-bought one. It also is more intense in flavor than cumin seeds. Therefore if a recipe calls for cumin seeds and you are using the powder instead, use half the quantity as that of the seeds. That is what I have done in this kid-friendly jeera rice.
Cumin powder is also known as jeera powder (cumin powder in Hindi); ground cumin seeds; powdered cumin, cumin seed powder, and ground cumin.
Jeera powder is generally added to the dish after some of the wet ingredients (tomatoes, water, broth, or vegetables) have been added, as I have done in this vegan cous cous salad.
Ingredients for making bhuna jeera
Just one 😊
Check the recipe card for the quantity.
I use regular brownish-yellow color seeds.
The process of making roasted cumin powder is very simple.
See the recipe card for detailed instructions and a video.
Step 1: Place the cumin seeds in a heavy-bottomed hot skillet on medium heat.
Step 2: Stir and roast till the seeds get an even brown (coffee color) on them.
This will take 10-12 minutes. Getting the right color is important and so be patient and keep a close watch because the cumin can go quite quickly from being brown to being burnt!
Step 3: When the seeds are a deep brown color, take them off the heat and tip them into another plate to cool.
Step 4: While they are still warm, place them on a chopping board or a clean countertop and crush them using a rolling pin to a coarse powder (see video below). You can do this using a pestle and mortar or a coffee/spice blender.
Don't crush them down to a fine powder. It is perfectly fine to have some whole cumin seeds still present in your bhuna jeera - they will add a lovely texture to your dish!
That's it! You have just made yourself a delicious and healthy condiment that will amp up the flavor of your dishes. See the section below for ideas on how to add this to your dishes. Enjoy 💚
Notes and storing instructions
- Roast the cumin seeds on medium heat, otherwise, the seeds will burn and make the powder bitter.
- Keep stirring while roasting. This will ensure that the seeds are evenly browned.
- If using an electric grinder, make sure that the cumin seeds are completely cool before you grind them.
- While grinding, ensure that the countertop, rolling pin, or pestle & mortar are not damp.
- Roasted cumin powder will last for several weeks, however, it tastes most aromatic and fresh when made in small batches. I usually prepare a small batch and use it up in 2 -3 weeks.
- Store it in a clean, glass jar with a tight lid.
How to use this bhuna jeera powder
Although ground cumin and roasted ground cumin are of the same spice, they taste quite different from each other and are used in cooking quite differently as well.
While jeera powder is added to the dish quite early on in the cooking process, bhuna jeera is usually added towards the end of the cooking process and often as a garnish to finish off the dish.
Here are some ideas for using roasted jeera powder in your dishes:
Sauteed butternut squash: This simple dish has the sweetness of butternut squash and the deep earthy flavor of roasted cumin. Simply delicious! 😋
Vegan potato soup: This soup has all the healing spices in it already and then finishing off with this toasted cumin seeds powder, which takes this soup to the next level. Really!
Tomato raitha: Bhuna jeera on a raita? Of course! This tangy, creamy yogurt dip needs just a sprinkle of this crunchy garnish to make it taste divine!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Powdered cumin seeds are known by many names - ground cumin; cumin powder; jeera powder and cumin seeds powder.
Cumin powder is made by grinding cumin seeds to a fine powder in a grinder.
Use cumin powder to add a deep flavor to the dish. Whole cumin seeds add a delicate nuttiness to the dish, whereas cumin powder will add more depth of flavor to your curries, stews, and soups.
If you have made this roasted powdered cumin, please take a moment to leave a comment below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you. xx Padma
Roasted Powdered Cumin (Bhuna Jeera)
- 1 heavy bottomed skillte
- 1 spatula
- 1 rolling pin and board (or mortar and pestle or electric grinder)
- ⅓ cup cumin seeds (40 grams, approximately)
- Place a heavy-bottomed skillet (I like to use my cast iron skillet) on medium heat till hot evenly. Add the cumin seeds to it and spread them to make an even layer. While keeping the heat on medium, start stirring and tossing the seeds in the pan.In about 30 seconds you will start smelling the distinct aroma of the cumin seeds.⅓ cup cumin seeds
- By 6-7 minutes the aroma of the cumin seeds with become intense and you will see smoke rising from the cumin seeds. This is normal. Do not worry. Continue roasting and stirring for another 3-4 minutes. Keep a close watch on the cumin seeds as at this stage of roasting they can very quickly go from being brown to being burnt.
- There are two ways to tell that the cumin seeds have roasted: A) they will have a deep, coffee-like brown color and B) they will start popping in the pan.This will take 10 -12 minutes (depending, of course, on the thickness of the pan)
- Quickly take them off the heat at this stage and tip them into another plate. Spread them thinly. Let them cool for a couple of minutes.
- While they are still warm, crush the roasted seeds on a wooden board or a clean countertop with a rolling pin (or pestle and mortar or electric grinder) to a coarse powder. It is perfectly fine to have some whole cumin seeds still present in your bhuna jeera – they will add a lovely texture to your dish!
- Store in a clean glass jar with a tight lid at room temperature.
- Sprinkle it on your favorite soup, salad, or Indian yogurt sauce
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.