Bitter cumin, also referred to as kala jeera, is an eminent spice hailing primarily from Indian, Iranian, and North African culinary traditions. Its small, dark, and crescent-shaped seeds bring forth a complex flavor profile – an intriguing mix of slightly bitter, sweet, and smoky nuances. Bitter cumin is appreciated not only for its unique taste but also for its versatility in both its whole and ground forms. Furthermore, it holds a place of honor in Ayurvedic medicine, recognized for its potential digestive benefits and reputed healing properties.
The distinctive character of bitter cumin is a star player in a multitude of dishes. In Indian cuisine, it’s often seen imparting its signature taste to flavorful curries and biryanis, while in Iran, it's used to enhance the flavor of rice and meat dishes. Often, these seeds are lightly toasted to release their full aromatic depth before being sprinkled on meals or infused into oils. Bitter cumin is also popularly used in North African spice mixtures, like Tunisia's Tabil, contributing its characteristic taste to the blend.
Beyond the scope of its culinary use, bitter cumin seeds serve a multitude of roles. They are frequently used in traditional medicinal remedies and herbal teas, or combined with honey as a soothing throat tonic. This underlines the spice's versatility and wide-ranging use in our daily lives.
Botanical Name: Centratherum anthelminticum
Also known as: Kala Jeera, Black Cumin, Black caraway, Nutmeg flower, Roman coriander, Schwarzkümmel , Cheveux de Vénus