Learn how to make roasted ground cumin powder or bhuna zeera. An essential ingredient in Pakistani / Indian cuisine. It’s super easy to prepare, and once you make it, it will become a must have in your spice cabinet.
What is Roasted Ground Cumin Powder?
Roasted ground cumin powder is made from cumin seeds. The cumin seeds are dry roasted, then ground into a powder. Roasted means bhuna in Urdu / Hindi, and cumin means zeera / jeera. So bhuna zeera / jeera means roasted cumin powder.
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Difference between cumin powder and roasted cumin powder?
Though both powders are made from cumin seeds, the flavor profile for cumin powder and roasted cumin powder is significantly different. Cumin powder is made from grinding the raw cumin seeds into a powder – it’s got an earthy savory flavor, with a hint of rawness in it.
Roasted cumin powder or bhuna zeera, has a far more intense and complex flavor profile. Dry roasting the cumin seeds intensifies their nutty undertones. When the roasted cumin seeds are ground, the resulting powder is more savory, more earthy, more fragrant with a subtle smokiness. It also doesn’t have that raw flavor since cumin seeds are now cooked.
Both spices have their own uses in Pakistani / Indian cuisine. Cumin powder is usually used as a base spice – its added to curries in the start of the cooking process, or in marinades. Whereas roasted cumin powder (bhuna zeera) is usually used as a finishing spice – added to chaat or raita.
How to Make Roasted Ground Cumin Powder?
Here's a simple guide to making roasted ground cumin powder or bhuna zeera at home.
Start with Whole Cumin Seeds: Purchase high-quality whole cumin seeds. I buy mine from the Pakistani / Indian grocery store, or from the international aisle of my local supermarket.
Dry Roasting: In a frying pan over medium heat, dry roast the cumin seeds till they release a rich, fragrant aroma. Stir them continuously to prevent burning.
Allow the cumin seeds to cool completely. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to ground the roasted cumin seeds. You can finely grind them into a smooth powder, or roughly crush them for texture.
Store the freshly ground roasted cumin powder in an airtight container to preserve its earthy flavor and aroma.
How to Use Roasted Ground Cumin Powder / Bhuna Zeera
Roasted ground cumin powder is a versatile spice that is used to add flavor and aroma to a variety of dishes – Pakistani / Indian recipes, as well as preparations from other cuisines.
- Add to yoghurt: My favorite way to use roasted cumin powder is to add it to yoghurt to make bhuna zeera raita. Just whisk yoghurt, add salt, roasted cumin powder, and chili powder. Mix and serve with BBQ chicken malai tikka, biryani or mutton yakhni pulao.
- Add to chaat: Bhuna zeera is an essential spice for dahi baray. You can also add it to chana chaat or samosa chaat.
- Seasoning: Sprinkle roasted cumin powder over roasted vegetables, salads, or grilled BBQ meats such as chicken malai boti for an added burst of flavor and aroma. Think of it as a finishing spice!
Roasted Ground Cumin - Bhuna Zeera
- 1 ½ cup cumin seeds
- Dry roast the cumin seeds in a non-stick small frying pan till they release a rich, fragrant aroma and change color to a darker brown. This process will take 5 - 8 minutes. Stir the cumin seeds with a wooden or silicon spatula to prevent burning.
- Turn off the heat, and remove the roasted cumin seeds. Place in a plate or bowl, and allow to cool completely.
- Place the roasted cumin seeds in a spice (or coffee) grinder and grind them into a powder. You can finely grind them for a smooth powder, or process less for more texture. You can also use a mortar and pestle if a spice grinder isn't available.
- Store the freshly ground roasted cumin powder in an airtight container to preserve its earthy flavor and aroma. Use within 6 - 8 months for the best flavor.
- When dry roasting the cumin seeds, make sure there is no oil or water in the pan. Be sure to stir often and keep an eye on the cumin seeds as they can burn quickly.