Hi Happy Eaters,
How are you all? Sorry for being busy in my work and didn’t got much time to write here. So I am back with one of the biggest confusion in Indian kitchens. Mostly from every part of the world, a Indian kitchen is well known for their deep knowledge and amazing use of 100s of spices in many ways but most of the people don’t even know about one of the best spices we are using is not the true spice. Ya, I am talking about Cinnamon or Dalchini.
Cinnamon is a very important spice in our daily use, sometimes in gravies or in rice dishes and sometimes in cakes also but do you know that 95% of households in india didn’t even know that they are using Cassia instead of cinnamon. Even both comes from the same family but actually the true spice is cinnamon but we have some other same species in same family as substitute. This family is really big with more than 2000-2500 species including Bay leaves and surprisingly Avocado also. But here we’ll talk about Cassia and Cinnamon (True Cinnamon) only.
Mostly cinnamon grows in Sri Lanka (Ceylon Cinnamon) and Burma and India also. Don’t surprise when I said that we have true cinnamon in our own country also but still we can’t find it in stores easily because most of them export to other countries and we get Cassia instead of that which is bit different. Cassia mostly grows in China (China Cinnamon), Vietnam (Vietnamese Cassia) and Indonesia (Indonesian Cinnamon). Java also a good place where both varieties grows.
The biggest difference in both is the taste. And that’s the reason where the dishes comes out different. True cinnamon is sweet and delicate but cassia is bit strong and peppery and this can change the whole dish.
The other big difference is related to health. True cinnamon has been shown to contain far lower amounts of a naturally occurring substance called coumarin, which can pose toxicity risks if consumed in an excessive amount. Some studies have found one teaspoon of cassia-type cinnamon to contain between 5-12 milligrams of coumarin. Outside of the U.S., organizations like the European Food Safety Authority have recommended no more than 0.1 milligrams of daily coumarin intake from food per 2.2 pounds of body weight. For a person weighing 150 pounds, this recommendation translates into about 7 milligrams of coumarin. These numbers show how it would be possible for a person routinely consuming sizeable amounts of cassia-type cinnamon to increase his or her risk of potential toxicity problems
So how to buy a true cinnamon? Actually cinnamon is a thin bark of C. verum (also called C. zeylanicum) when dried. It rolls inside just as newspaper but Cassia is bark of Cinnamomum iners which is much thick and hard than cinnamon and breaks in pieces when took from the tree.Some good quality Cassia also turn inside and rolls but not smoothly like cinnamon and it doesn’t have layer b’cause of thickness. Cinnamon have a smooth texture but Cassia is completely rough and uneven. Cinnamon is in light brown or tan color but Cassia is dark brown or reddish brown.
There is no harm to use a little quantity of cassia instead of cinnamon if you can’t find the true cinnamon easily but you must know the difference and the complete knowledge about what you have to use but what you are using in the name of. Some companies in india now labeling Cassia as Cassia but many still using name of Cinnamon while packaging Cassia inside. True cinnamon is also a bit costly than normal Cassia but the taste and aroma is truly deserves the price. So next time when you goes for spices shopping or buying online, just look for Cinnamon and you’ll get the difference.