Dhanajiru powder is an Indian spice blend which is used in a variety of foods. It is particularly popular with vegetarian cuisine, since it is piquant and flavorful, and it is also sometimes used as the base for making a more complex curry powder. Specialty stores and large grocers may carry dhanajiru powder, and it is also possible to make it at home. Freshly made dhanajiru powder will be much more flavorful and intense, especially when it is grown from whole spices.
There are two basic variants on dhanajiru powder. The first blends cumin, coriander, black pepper, and turmeric. Turmeric gives the powder a distinctive yellow color, and will also dye foods bright yellow. One can replicate the spice blend at home by mixing equal parts of cumin and coriander, and adding a dash of black pepper and turmeric. Grinding the spices together will help to even out the texture and ensure even distribution of all the flavors.
The other variant is sometimes called dhana jiru or dhana-jiru. It uses just cumin and coriander, ground in equal proportions. Lack of pepper allows the more mild flavors of these spices to come through, since they are not obscured by spiciness. The powder has a mellow brown color, and will stain foods slightly, but not as radiantly as turmeric will.
When fresh whole spices are being ground to make dhanajiru powder, weigh the cumin and coriander to ensure that they are being used in equal parts. Already ground spices can be weighed or measured with tablespoons. If the powder appears less piquant than it should be, toasting it can help to revive some of the flavor, although spices over a year old may remain bland and slightly bitter.
Most cooks use dhanajiru powder, along with all spices, in moderation. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the spice, start by adding a small amount to a recipe and tasting it. It is easy to add more spicing to the dish if it it not perfectly seasoned, but it is difficult to take spices away if they have become overwhelming. Try to store dhanajiru powder in a cool, dark, dry place, and always use a clean utensil to scoop it out, or sift it through the top of a spice jar onto a measuring spoon. Do not sift a spice container directly over the food, as your hand may slip and over spice, and steam from the food can damage the powdered spice as well.