Shah Jeera


Shah Jeera
Shah Jeera

Shah Jeera (noun.) The small dark brown seeds of Shah Jeera(Caraway seeds) resemble cumin seeds but are different due to distinctive sweet flavours. It is used in the preparation of Indian bread (and rotis), biscuits and pilaus. It is also added to several non-vegetarian dishes.

There are many varieties of cumin seeds used in Indian cuisine. One used in everyday food is the black cumin or kala jeera (scientific name Cuminum cyminum).

Shah jeera( scientific name bunium persicum) is part of the popular Garam Masala where it is roasted with expensive herbs like peppercorns, cardamom(Ilaichi), and cinnamon(dalchini) to get the garam masala powder, used in the preparation of chicken curries, vegetable curries and meat dishes.

Shah Jeera or Syahi Jeera (Syahi means black in Persian) can come in two varieties. The scientific name of one is Bunium Bulbo Castnum,  which was cultivated in Kashmir and is similar to cumin, and the other is Bunium Persicum, which has a milder taste. Many confuse Shah Jeera with Nigella seeds and Caraway seeds.

What is Shah Jeera?

Shah Jeera is believed to be a distorted version of the Persian term Syahi Black Jeera. Culinary experts believe a typical variety of cumin was used in royal recipes, and it is called Shah Jeera. The darker-than-normal aromatic cumin (Jeera) seeds, Shah Jeera, are used in many Indian curries, bread, cakes, biscuits, dry vegetables, steamed rice and even masala tea.

The sweet, smoky, earthy, nutty, peppery flavour of the Shah Jeera adds a superior flavour to your culinary creations, giving a complex depth of taste. It is a wonderful spice that gives some character to your favourite food items like rye bread, cream soups, harissa paste and bagel spice.

Shah Jeera in English

The generic name of Shah Jeera is Bunium. It is a member of the Apiaceae family. Shahi jeera, also known as Syahi Jeera, is based on the Persian word syahi. It gives Kala Jeera the name "black." There are two types of Kala Jeera used in Indian cuisine. One is the Bunium Bulbocastanum, which is longer and cultivated in Kashmir. The other is kalonji seeds (Nigella Sativa),  called kala jeera.

Shah Jeera in Telugu

It is called Sheema Jilkara in Telugu and Shimayishiragam in Tamil.

Shah Jeera vs Jeera

Shahi means royal, and Shah Jeera is linked to royal Indian cuisines, often used as a substitute for caraway seeds or cumin, though its flavour is milder than cumin (Cuminum Cyminum). Shah Jeera looks similar to cumin seeds but is finer and darker in colour. It is sometimes referred to as Syah Jeera (Syah meaning black).

Jeera, or cumin, is native to India, Iran, the Mediterranean, and Egypt. It has a pungent, nutty flavour that intensifies upon roasting.  The black seeds are similar to the cumin seeds but are considered royal spices. They can have a pleasant, warming, and sharp taste that is slightly more pungent and bitter than cumin seeds. Shah Jeera, a bit like Caraway but more like Jeera(cumin), can replace Jeera in any recipe. 

Shah Jeera seeds, also called Kashmiri Jeera, are sometimes sold as kalonji but differ from Kalonji seeds in colour, shape, and taste. Kalonji is Nigella sativa, and black Caraway (Bunium persicum) is called black cumin. Caraway seeds are used in many dishes as they add a typically sweet, floral, and nutty flavour. 

Shah Jeera vs Kala Jeera

The typical Shah Jeera is similar to Caraway but belongs to a different plant. Kala Jeera is used in many North Indian recipes. It is the same as caraway seeds, though some varieties may have slight colour differences. Another popular herb is Kalajiri, and its botanical name is centratherum, which means anthelmintic.

Cumin seeds used in everyday Indian cooking are also sold as jeera, kummel,  krishnajraka roman cumin, kala jeera, shahi jeera, semences de carvi, Dharavi, and Apium carve.

Caraway seeds are commonly sold as Kala Jeera and used as replacements for Shah Jeera. Caraway seeds have a sweeter and nuttier flavour, and cumin has a strong, pungent taste. Caraway seeds are often used in sweet dishes such as bread and cakes, and cumin is used in Indian curries and savoury dishes.

Caraway is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Folate, Niacin and phosphorus and is rich in antioxidants and contains significant amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that can reduce dangerous free radicals. 

Caraway seeds can be brown, but Shah Jeera seeds are mostly black and slightly curvy in shape. Shah Jeera comes from the Carum Carvi plant and belongs to the Asian, European, and African subcontinents. It differs from nigella sativa, called kalonji (nigella seeds are sometimes mistaken for kala jeera).

Nigella is made of multi-shaped pure dark black seeds with no other visible colour, and it is distinctively used in many recipes to flavour oil, onion, meats, vegetables, and bread.   

How Can You Use Shah Jeera?

Shah Jeera is used in masala lentils to temper salads or spice up the naan. It is long, thinner and darker in colour than regular cumin seeds. It is native to North India and Central Asia and is used for flavouring rice, meat, shahi paneer, kurma, bread, steamed rice and baked recipes. 

Shah Jeera is different from regular cumin or Jeera in appearance, size and flavour. Shah jeera is often confused with Caraway, which is different in flavour. Cumin is bigger and has robust flavours, and Shahi Jeera is related to cumin as both are seeds from plants in the parsley family.

Caraway is also called black cumin, Persian cumin, kala jeera, or black seed, and the use of Caraway in the recipe gives a smoky, earthy taste. Caraway is also called meridian fennel or fruit seeds and can be used whole. It has a flavour that resembles anise.

It is used to spice up bread, and it is also found in sauerkraut. Caraway seeds contain appreciable moisture, proteins, vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, and other minerals. The seed oil can be used orally to cure bad breath. 

Shah Jeera is similar to caraway seeds, which are herbs and spices. However, there are certain differences. Caraway has liquorice citrus notes and is more curved and dark in colour, whereas Shah Jeera is similar to cumin seeds. Cumin seeds have warm, slightly pungent, earthy flavours.

Shah Jeera BenefitsShah Jeera is used as a spice in foods and beverages. It has an intense aroma and is used in many recipes in Indian and  Middle Eastern cuisine. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. The scientific name of green cumin is Cuminum cyminum, native to the Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia.

The dried seeds are used for culinary purposes. It can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and increase plasma high-density lipoproteins. The seeds contain minor quantities of minerals, such as sodium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and calcium, as well as vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B complex, and folic acid, which impart numerous health benefits to the consumer.

  • In the traditional system of medicine, it is added as a stimulant, carminative, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, astringent, sedative and antispasmodic. 
  • It increases body metabolism and is useful for dry skin, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. 
  • Regular intake also reduces blood sugar levels and inflammation.
  • It heals and relieves itching and digestive disorders. 

Shah Jeera Substitute

Shah Jeera has a stronger taste and can be replaced with cumin or fennel seeds in some recipes. It adds a sweet, savoury flavour, and Jeera or fennel seeds can be used as a replacement spice in curries, tandoori dishes, stews, pancakes, and flaky parathas.  

Caraway seeds are nutty and minty in flavour, which is different from typical Jeera. Many chefs combine caraway and shahi jeera or use aniseeds or dill to get a unique flavour. Aniseeds can be used as a replacement for Caraway.

Nigella seeds, which belong to the family Ranunculaceae, taste strong and nutty. They can be used whole or ground into powder. Kalonji seeds are a key ingredient in Panch Phoran Masala and can be added to flatbreads and rye bread (naan) dough.

Shah Jeera Price

Depending on the quality, quantity and label, a 100 gm packet of Shah Jeera can be priced in the range of £5 to £10.

Shah Jeera Recipes

Shah Jeera has unique properties that can help promote digestion. It is a wonder spice which must be roasted in a pan for a few seconds and then added at the end of the recipe preparation. It can be added to onions and tomatoes to add a unique aroma to the preparation. It can be added to typical shahi curries and masala recipes.

It can be used in baked products—dough, dinner rolls, and muffins—or baking naan in the oven.  It is commonly used in rice dishes such as biriyani and bread. It is an aromatic fruit and a spice that contains a significant amount of magnesium, which relaxes the mind and body.

Due to its versatility can be found in many Indian masala mixes, such as Biriyani masala, Chole masala, Malvani masala, Goda  masala, and others. 

Due to a lack of availability, some chefs use Caraway seeds in place of Shahi Jeera. Caraway seeds have been part of European and Asian cuisine for centuries. Caraway is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, Niacin, and Folate. It contains many lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that can reduce free radicals.

Caraway is used to prepare savoury foods and can be added to a recipe to cure indigestion or bloating.

Jeera Water Benefits

Roasted Jeera powder mixed with rock salt can be added to drinking water to promote metabolism. It has many health benefits; it can cure cough, dryness, and eczema, boost cardiovascular health, regulate blood flow and blood sugar levels, and reduce inflammation of reproductive organs.

Is Shah Jeera And Kala Jeera Same?

Shah Jeera can be referred to as Kala Jeera, but  Kala Jeera is a term often used for Caraway seeds and sometimes for Nigella seeds. 

Caraway seeds or Kala Jeera can be replaced with aniseeds and are referred to as western jeera (vilayati jeera) by Indian home chefs. Black Caraway is erroneously called black cumin. 

Caraway plants are native to western Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. They are similar in appearance to other carrot family members. Caraway fruits (erroneously called seeds) are crescent-shaped achenes that are part of multiple recipes due to their nutty, peppery flavour. They can be added to pasta, vegetables, cookies, and cakes to enhance the taste.

Is Shah Jeera And Jeera Same?

The generic name for Shah Jeera is Bunium. It is often used as a substitute for caraway seeds, and its flavour is milder than cumin (Cuminum Cyminum). Jeera has a different flavour from Shah Jeera. Shah Jeera is a rich spice with a distinctive aroma commonly found in Indian recipes. 

Caraway and cumin seeds look similar, but cumin seeds are lighter in colour and less curved than Caraway seeds. The two spices taste differently. Cumin has a warm, slightly spicy, earthy flavour, whereas caraway liquorice has a distinctive tangy aroma. Caraway fruits contain 3 to 7 per cent essential oil, and the oil's aroma is dominated by carvone(50 to 85%)and limonene (20 to 30%).

The fruit is longer, thinner, and sweet in taste. The primary benefit of Caraway is digestion. It is a carminative that helps with indigestion and can settle a queasy stomach.  

Fennel seeds are greener, tasting mainly like liquorice, whereas Caraway seeds boast an array of complex flavours. 

Another complex herb used in the Indian traditional system of medicines is called KaliJiri (Centratherum anthelmintic).  


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