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Kala Jeera

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The other day I set out to make some roti and grabbed a recipe off the internet that called for 1/2 teaspoon of kala jeera (black cumin seed). I picked up a bag of the stuff from the local Indian grocery and started cooking without having tasted the seeds.

Before adding the seeds, I fried them in oil for a few seconds, as I normally would with spices.

I took a bite of one of the finish breads and it was far too bitter to eat. A taste of the plain seeds revealed that they're horribly, extremely bitter. Even after 10-20 seconds in hot oil, they retain a very bitter taste.

Is this normal? And how am I supposed to make them taste less bitter? Or are they supposed to be extremely bitter?

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Or are they supposed to be extremely bitter?

No.

Try buying from elswhere. Or perhaps you might get a sample from an Indian restaurant.


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Try buying from elswhere. Or perhaps you might get a sample from an Indian restaurant.

Darn... these are Moho brand, and it's hard to find other brands around here... though there are plenty of Indian stores. I'll try another one.

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Are you looking for true black cumin, known as shahi or siyah jeera. These look like very fine and delicate cumin seeds, but have a different, more subtle flavor.

Or...Are you looking for nigella, which are called kalonji in Hindi and kalo jeera(black cumin, which is a misnomer) by the Bengalis. These are also sometimes called onion seeds because they look like onion seeds(little black teardrop shapes). These have an oregano/lemon pepper like flavor and are a bit astringent.

kalonji are often used in breads, but shahi jeera not so much....

Just wondering.

edward


Edited by Edward (log)

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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Are you looking for true black cumin, known as shahi or siyah jeera. These look like very fine and delicate cumin seeds, but have a different, more subtle flavor.

The thing I've got that's very bitter is black cumin. The seeds are like cumin but smaller. I'm familiar with nigella and this isn't it.

The recipe that calls for kala jeera is here: Missi Roti

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Your recipe calls for both jeeras so this culprit is what you bought as Royal/Shahi Jeera. My Shahi Jeera is definitely not bitter so probably you have been unfortunate to have come across an anomaly.

A simple solution is to not use it at all and make the missi roti without it. There are many versions of missi roti and not all of them call for Shahi Jeera. I dont think you will miss(i) much. :biggrin:


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Hi...since we're onto this topic of shahi jeera, I wanted to ask you all in which recipes do you people use it (apart from biryani) ? I've got a packed lying at home since ages and I don't know what to do with it.

monika

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Monika, I've found that it works well in a simple Jeera rice. As a solo performer it does well and tends to get overshadowed in other preparations.


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I've occasionally seen siya-jeera translated as aniseed, but that's not correct, is it? Perhaps this might be a good time to try and agree on definitive translations for aniseed, fennel seed and caraway, all three of which get varying translations in Indian cookbooks. If we want to be really ambitious we could also tackle kalonji and radhuni?

Vikram

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The other day I set out to make some roti and grabbed a recipe off the internet that called for 1/2 teaspoon of kala jeera (black cumin seed). I picked up a bag of the stuff from the local Indian grocery and started cooking without having tasted the seeds.

Before adding the seeds, I fried them in oil for a few seconds, as I normally would with spices.

I took a bite of one of the finish breads and it was far too bitter to eat. A taste of the plain seeds revealed that they're horribly, extremely bitter. Even after 10-20 seconds in hot oil, they retain a very bitter taste.

Is this normal? And how am I supposed to make them taste less bitter? Or are they supposed to be extremely bitter?

Hmmmm-- while I agree with the other suggestions here I am wondering if you overcooked it and that accounts for the bitter taste as does using too much. A little goes a long way....

let me know if that was possibly the case


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Also...make sure your besan is fresh. If it is not it could taste quite terrible.


Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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Hmmmm-- while I agree with the other suggestions here I am wondering if you overcooked it

So raw and overcooked would both be equally bitter, but slightly cooked should taste nice? That seems weird.

And in what way would my besan taste bad if it were old? It certainly has a bit of a "funky" flavor to it, and it almost tastes like tea, but I didn't know if that was normal or not.

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Hmmmm-- while I agree with the other suggestions here I am wondering if you overcooked it

So raw and overcooked would both be equally bitter, but slightly cooked should taste nice? That seems weird.

And in what way would my besan taste bad if it were old? It certainly has a bit of a "funky" flavor to it, and it almost tastes like tea, but I didn't know if that was normal or not.

Overcooked and used in excess is bitter.


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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[quote

So raw and overcooked would both be equally bitter, but slightly cooked should taste nice? That seems weird.

raw and overcooked being less than tasty isn't all that unusual...

Consider the humble squid...too little cooking or too much renders them into something akin to eating rubber bands...

But if cooked within "The Zone" they are tender and definitely delicious

:smile:

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Consider the humble squid...

Consider too the less than humble minced garlic clove which begins quite harsh, mellows with a few seconds of cooking and then gets bitter if cooked too long.

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