Kala Jeera, sometimes known as Black Cumin, is a spice found in South Asian recipes, and has been used in India since ancient times.
To be specific, Kala Jeera actually refers to a type of seed that is used as a spice. The plant from which it comes from is a close cousin of cumin. The name “Black Cumin” can be confusing, since several other spices also share the same English name.
The seeds, which look like dark brown fennel seeds, are often used as an ingredient in curries, though the spice is also added to rice and other dishes for flavor.
What Does Kala Jeera Taste Like?
As a raw seed, Kala Jeera carries a earthy, bitter flavor which can be overwhelming and unpleasant to taste. But as it cooks, the flavor becomes more nutty and fragrant. When used to recipes, it adds a rich flavor with hints of pepper that complement many dishes.
Put in a recipe, Kala Jeera has a very strong nutty flavor, and can be compared to freshly toasted cumin. There are also hints of citrusy sweetness in its flavor profile.
Its overall taste can also vary depending on how the seeds are process or roasted, as well as any other spices that it might be paired with in a recipe.
What Can You Use Kala Jeera For?
Kala Jeera is most commonly used as a seasoning in various cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. In eastern India it is commonly used in Assamese cuisine and in the western parts of India it is commonly used in Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine.
It is also found in Pakistani cuisine, and has found its way outside of India and across South Asia.
Though it is different from regular cumin, its usage in cooking is comparable – Both are used in small amounts to improve and enhance the flavor of meats, soups, stews and sauces.
It can be used to add flavor to bread or spice blends, or steamed with rice to give it a distinctive smell. It is also used to season other grains, like lentils and jowar, as well as beans and peas.
Other common uses include using it as a spice in various curries, and incorporating it into spice mixes.
What’s more, Kala Jeera can be made into an essential oil. In traditional medicinal practices, it is also used to treat minor aliments like indigestion or skin scratches. You may even make an aromatic tea out of it by pouring hot water over the seeds.
Once you become familiar with its special flavor, you can start to get creative with it in your recipes. Try to sprinkle it over soups and salads, or incorporate it into your homemade sauces.
Kala Jeera has a very short cooking time, so the key to using it in recipes is to add it near the end of the cooking process.
Kala Jeera Health Benefits – How It Can Help You
Kala Jeera is a spice that has many amazing health benefits. It packs a lot of flavor in a small volume, and can be used as a substitute for less healthy seasonings
In traditional medicine, it has been used for centuries to soothe digestion problems and colds. It has also been shown to boost your metabolism and lower blood sugar levels, both of which are great for weight loss.
Kala Jeera can also be mixed with honey and lemon for an instant antidote to feeling nauseous or blocked throat which makes it perfect for colds and flu season too.
What Can You Use To Substitute For Kala Jeera?
Kala Jeera has a strong and unique flavor that’s not easy to replace. That being said, in most recipes it can be substituted with toasted cumin for a similarly nutty, smoky flavor.
Alternatively, you could try to replace it with other spices like caraway seeds or coriander. These choices will yield different scents and flavors, but can still have a good effect on the overall taste of your dishes.
Is Kala Jeera And Kalonji The Same Thing?
Kala Jeera and Kalonji are not the same! Kala Jeera is a type of seed that’s often likened to cumin, whereas Kalonji refers to another spice often called “Nigella Seeds” or Charnushka.
Both spices can be used in similar ways, and both feature a smoky flavor profile. However, Kalonji differs in that it has a stronger and sharper taste, and lacks the subtle sweetness found in Kala Jeera.
This means you may have to be more careful in how you use Kalonji, and what foods and flavors you choose to pair it with. With all that being said, both Kala Jeera and Kalonji are fantastic unique spices in their own right, and open the doors to many different dishes and flavors.
Where Can You Find Kala Jeera?
Kala Jeera is a spice that is commonly found in specialty shops and Asian spice stores. It can usually be found in little glass bottles or plastic packets. Do not confuse it with “Kali Jeeri”, which is a medicinal herb with a bitter taste not suitable for cooking.
You’ll often find it with other Indian spices, alongside cumin and coriander. It is a lot less common in mainstream grocery stores.
In any case, you can always order it online and get exactly what you want!