Bhuna Jeera.

I realized that I have not posted any Indian recipes. In a loooong time. And I have not posted anything masala, even though my blog is named Masala Art. I’ve been so caught up baking (the bug has bitten me hard) that I’ve just stopped trying out desi recipes for my blog. Tsk tsk. Especially since I eat Indian food 4 times a week, at least.

I thought I’d share an easy condiment/spice powder: bhuna jeera. It’s just roasted cumin, but it is quite wonderful. Indian cooking uses a lot of cumin seed and cumin powder anyway, but once roasted and ground, cumin takes on a different flavour with more depth. I’m not trying to be phancy and act all Kylie Kwong-y with my use of adjectives, but that is the only way I can describe it.

I first sampled bhuna jeera or roasted cumin powder at my best friend M’s home, her mom always had a jar of it in the kitchen. We’d usually sprinkle it over boondi raita or set curd.

The past few weeks I had been searching for bhuna jeera, but only found regular cumin powder at stores. And then I realized I was being a dumbass. This was something I should be making at home, not searching for in a supermarket. I already had cumin seeds (almost every Indian kitchen does) and I had a wok and a blender. That’s all I needed!



Cumin seeds. As much as you like.


All you need to do is take the cumin seeds and dry roast them in a wok on medium heat until they turn blackish. Pull them off the heat immediately, and grind them with the help of a blender, or if you have the patience, a mortar and pestle. Avoid going berserk and pounding it to dust; keep it coarse and a little grainy. It’s more fun that way. Trust me.

However, if you are someone who detests texture and enjoys dusty spice powders, be my guest and pound away. (That did not sound very ladylike. Excuse me. I just had a shot of iced coffee, no sugar, with twice the amount of decoction I normally put in.)

Roasted cumin powder adds a nice, rich, smokey flavour to whatever it touches; plus it has a beautiful nutty fragrance. Some fun stuff you can do with it:

  • Sprinkle it over thick-set curd.
  • Steamed basmati rice + a dab of butter + a teaspoon of bhuna jeera is oh-so-comforting.
  • Sautee some chopped onions and tomatoes with mustard seeds, salt, chilli powder and bhuna jeera, put it between 2 slices of toasted bread with a little cilantro and you have a very nice vegetarian sandwich. (Which may be perceived as exotic depending on where you live. I’m just saying.)
  • Fresh slices of paneer (cottage cheese) seasoned with salt, pepper and bhuna jeera make a nice snack, too.

Now, I need to post a recipe using some of this!