Cumin Seeds | Hari Ghotra
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Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera)

Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera)

Using Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera) in Indian Cooking

Shai Jeera looks very similar to the cumin seeds but is finer and darker in colour and has a crescent shape. It is often confused with other spices such as Nigella Sativa which can also be called black cumin (confusing or what!) but Nigella is a black seed that is totally unrelated to this spice. Often also confused with caraway (which has a very different flavour and cumin which is bigger and more robust in flavour. Shahi Jeera is however related to cumin and they are both seeds from plants in the parsley family.

Shahi jeera's scientific name is Bunium Persicum and it is native to Central Asia and Northern India where it is widely used for adding flavour to rice and meat. It has milder flavour than cumin but is rich with a sweet, floral tone, used whole the seeds adds a nuttiness to your dish.

Aswell as being used in the kitchen it is also pressed to yield an essential oil that has applications in traditional medicine as its known to have properties that help with digestive issues and skin contiltions.

I like to use this in mild, lightly flavoured dishes such as those with a malahi or creamy sauce. In India the seeds are baked into breads, steamed in rice, added to spice pastes and used to make masala spice blends to add a distinct aromatic. These seeds can be substituted for cumin seeds

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Comments

Comments (3)

  • Patrick

    Patrick

    04 November 2017 at 21:21 |
    Hello Hari,
    Are these the correct ones? I'm losing my mind over here https://www.amazon.com/Laxmi-Kala-Jeera-Caraway-Seeds/dp/B00JEVW3CO/
    This explanation I found on a product description sums up the hilarity of how confusing this is: "Nigella sativa seed is variously called Black cumin, fennel flower, nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, black seed, black caraway, or black onion seed. Other names used, sometimes misleadingly, are onion seed and black sesame, both of which are similar-looking but unrelated. The seeds are frequently referred to as black cumin (as in Bengali kalo jira), but this is also used for a different spice, Bunium persicum."

    Thank you!
    -Pat

    reply

  • Patrick

    Patrick

    04 November 2017 at 22:00 |
    Hi Hari,
    Just to circle back I do think those are the correct ones, from looking at the zoomed in photo. This link helped clarify a very confusing aspect in this area of spices: https://calmlycookingcurry.blogspot.com/2016/01/ingredient-of-week-shahi-jeera.html
    Thank you,
    Pat

    reply

    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      06 November 2017 at 10:27 |
      Hi Patick Yes this is a confusing subject - I feel your pain!! These are correct - Shahi jeera are not black onion seeds or black sesame or caraway. This link is very helpful for others thanks for sharing. Hari

      reply

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Hari Ghotra