Cumin is a must-have spice in any pantry. Learn all about it and how to make cumin powder (ground cumin, jeera powder) at home in under 15 minutes.
There are certain spices that are very regularly used in my cooking and one of them is cumin. I use the seeds for tempering my lentils and curries and the cumin powder (ground cumin) is used to dress my raita and chaat.
In today’s post, I am sharing all about cumin seeds, how to make cumin powder (ground cumin, jeera powder), and its benefits and uses.
What Are Cumin Seeds
Also known as Cuminum Cyminum, cumin seeds also called jeera in India, are obtained from a flowering plant ( a member of the parsley family) that is majorly grown in India, North Africa, and the Middle East.
The seeds have a warm earthy flavor with mildly bitter and sweet undertones, which is also reflected in their powdered form. They look like caraway seeds but are boat-shaped and a bit longer than them.
This aromatic spice can be used in a multitude of ways in Indian cuisine and middle eastern dishes, from tempering lentils and curries to adding to soups, stir-fries, dips, etc.
You will find the whole seeds in the spice aisle of any grocery store.
Note – Store cumin seeds in a cool and dry place in your pantry away from direct sunlight. If storing them for a long time, it is best to freeze them to maintain their flavor and aroma.
Health Benefits of Cumin Seeds
Not only does it perks up the taste of the dishes it is added to, but jeera seeds also have many nutritional benefits as well.
Cumin seeds and their essential oil have long been used as a natural remedy for digestive problems like indigestion, gas, and bloating. In fact, cumin has been shown to increase the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, which help to break down food and absorb nutrients.
They may also help promote weight loss by increasing metabolism and reducing appetite.
Cumin seeds are rich in antioxidants, which help to protect your cells from damage and may reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Jerra is also a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for immune system function.
They have been shown to help improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
Cumin may also help lower cholesterol levels by increasing the production of bile in the liver.
They contain thymol, an antimicrobial compound that can help protect against food poisoning.
What Is Cumin Powder
Cumin Powder which is also popularly known as ground cumin or jeera powder is a spice powder that is prepared by grinding cumin seeds.
It is a very versatile spice and is used extensively in Indian dishes just like chili powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder, and turmeric powder.
Although jeera powder is made from cumin seeds, both taste different when added to a dish. Cumin seeds burst into flavor when one seed comes into your mouth while the ground cumin mingles well with the base of the dish and becomes a part of the overall taste profile.
The shelf life of cumin seed is at least a year while ground cumin loses its potency in under a month.
You can make cumin powder in 2 ways
- Raw – The seeds are simply ground to make a powder. This version is also called ground cumin and is added to spice mixes like Taco Seasoning, or to dishes that are still to be cooked like soup, or curries.
- Roasted – The seeds are roasted until fragrant and then ground. This version is also called bhuna jeera powder in India and is added to ready dishes like chaat, raita, etc to enhance their taste.
I personally like to use roasted powder in my cooking as it is much more flavorful. By roasting the seeds, their bitter and sharp flavor is reduced and the earthiness is enhanced. You can also store roasted cumin powder for a longer period of time than the unroasted one.
Why Make Cumin Powder at Home
- Making jeera powder at home is super easy. You just need whole cumin seeds and a spice grinder.
- The homemade powder is much more flavorful than the store-bought one as it starts to oxidize and lose its flavor over time. When made at home, you can make a small batch and use it fresh.
- This popular spice is much more economical when made at home.
- The homemade version is free of any additives. You can be sure of the quality when you make it home.
How To Make Cumin Powder
You just need whole cumin seeds to make cumin powder. Try to get your hands on organic and NON-GMO seeds. These seeds are easily available in the spice section of most grocery stores or online.
Making roasted cumin powder is a two-step process.
- Roast the seeds until they are fragrant and browned.
- Grind to make a smooth powder.
Add 1 cup of cumin seed to a skillet.
Dry roast over medium-low heat until they are slightly browned and very fragrant (5-6 minutes), stirring continuously.
Remove the skillet from heat and keep stirring the seeds for 1-2 minutes so that the seeds at the bottom of the skillet don’t get burned from the residual heat.
Let the seeds cool down completely.
Transfer the roasted seeds to a coffee grinder, a spice grinder, or a food processor and grind to make a smooth powder. Scrap the sides of the jar while grinding a few times.
I like to make a small batch and use it in under a month as it tastes the best when made fresh. Having said that, you can store it for up to 2-3 months in an airtight container in a cool dry place or refrigerate it for up to 6 months.
If making the powder without roasting, then just blitz the seeds until powdered. Make sure to make a small batch as the powder starts to lose its flavor after a month.
Frequently Asked Questions
This spice has a very unique flavor and you must try to not substitute it with anything else.
It’s not a very expensive spice and is easily available in most grocery stores or online, so having some in your pantry will only help. But just in case, you are short of it, here is an article by The Spruce Eats that lists 6 substitutes you can use.
If you do not have a grinder, you can use a rolling pin to prepare the powder. In this case, the cumin seeds should be a little warm so that they break easily. Spread the warm roasted cumin seeds on the counter and press them using the rolling pin going from up to down. Continue the process until you get a coarse powder.
You can also use a mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the roasted cumin seeds.
Cumin Seeds and ground cumin, although are the same spice, they are used differently in recipes because of their totally different taste profile.
Cumin seeds are used at the start of the cooking and they release their flavor when heated. They are mostly added to hot oil for the best release of their aroma. Cumin powder on the other hand is added while cooking or at the end of the cooking. It gets mixed with the dishes and improves their overall taste.
Some of the recipes where cumin seeds are the star are jeera rice, jeera aloo, and dal tadka. One thing to keep in mind is to add cumin to the oil when it is nicely hot. If you add the seeds to cold oil, they will not release their flavor well.
I often sprinkle roasted cumin powder into my bowl of plain yogurt and it instantly perks up its taste. Apart from plain yogurt, I also add it to my raita recipes like boondi raita, pineapple raita, or spinach raita.
You can also add it to your curries, dry sabji (stir-fries), or use it to flavor the stuffing of paratha. It can also be added to mixed rice or pulao recipes.
It is a must-use spice powder in chaat recipes. Just a little sprinkling on ready chaat elevates their flavor a lot. It can also be added to the marinades for chicken, meat, seafood, etc.
Sprinkle a little ground cumin powder on your sandwiches, rolls, and wraps.
You can make cumin tea using this powder. This tea is supposed to be very good for weight loss.
Other than the food, you can also use it in your face packs and add some to your hair oil for cosmetic benefits.
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Cumin Powder Recipe
- Spice Grinder
- 1 cup cumin seeds (100 grams)
- Add cumin seed to a skillet.
- Dry roast over medium-low heat until they are slightly browned and very fragrant (5-6 minutes), stirring continuously.
- Remove the skillet from heat and keep stirring the seeds for 1-2 minutes so that the seeds at the bottom of the skillet don’t get burned from the residual heat.
- Let the seeds cool down completely.
- Transfer the roasted seeds to a coffee grinder, a spice grinder, or a food processor and grind to make a smooth powder. Scrap the sides of the jar while grinding a few times.