Cumin seeds (jeera) are a staple in Indian food – they go into the tadka in dals and vegetables, they flavor jeera rice…and they’re roasted and ground and sprinkled over raitas and salads and dahi vadas and chaats.
You can get roasted ground cumin powder in the market but it does not hold a candle to the flavor of fresh roasted cumin powder made at home.
Here is a quick way you can make roasted cumin powder (bhuna jeera).
- Cumin seeds – 2 tablespoons
- Equipment – a tava or skillet, a spatula, mortar and pestle/grinder
Place the tava on high flame. When the tava is hot, spread the cumin seeds over it. Within half a minute, the cumin seeds will begin to change color and give off aroma. Set the flame to medium and begin to turn the cumin seeds around. You’ll see a smokiness and stronger cumin aroma.
Be vigilant at this juncture – there is a fine line between roasted cumin and burnt cumin – you do NOT want to cross that line!
Set the flame to low and keep turning the cumin seeds really fast around the tava. Your aim should be to get evenly darkened cumin seeds without burning them. Don’t worry if the result isn’t too even; when ground you wouldn’t know the difference.
After 3-4 minutes, switch off the flame and let the cumin seeds to take in the remaining heat of the tava till the cumin seeds cool to room temperature.
Pound coarsely using a mortar and pestle or grind for a couple of seconds in an electric grinder. Store in an airtight container.
Roasted cumin powder lasts for weeks but it tastes most aromatic when it is fresh. I usually prepare this in small batches and finish it off within ten days.