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What is Dhanajiru Powder?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Jul 17, 2011

@ysmina-- Actually "dhana" means coriander and "jeera" means cumin seeds. Dhanajiru is the combination of these terms because those are the essential elements in that spice mix. I think in that sense, dhanajiru without dhana or coriander, isn't really dhanajiru.

There are still many different variations on dhanajiru though. In my family, for example, we make dhanajiru with 2:1 ratio of coriander to cumin. We also add a little bit of cinnamon in it. In different parts of India, there are different recipes for dhanajiru and the proportions change even from household to household.

What I would suggest is for you to look up several different recipes for dhanajiru and pick one you like. Even if you don't like coriander, you can make dhanajiru with a low ratio of coriander- maybe 2:10 or 1:10 ratio of coriander to cumin. Then, you won't taste the coriander as much and can still use dhanajiru in your recipes.

Good luck!

By ysmina — On Jul 17, 2011

Hi, thank you for the information. I want to ask if I can replace the coriander in dhanajiru powder with something else?

I have a recipe for kheema, which is spiced minced meat that calls for dhanajiru powder. But I don't like coriander much, I try to avoid it in recipes if I can.

Is it okay if I make a dhanjiru powder with just cumin, pepper and turmeric or replace the coriander with another spice and use this for the recipe? Will that completely ruin the recipe?

By turquoise — On Jul 16, 2011

I love Indian food. I was introduced to it by Indian coworkers and since then I have eaten at every Indian restaurant in town and have even taken an Indian cooking class.

I love Indian cuisine because of the use of so many different vegetables, lentils and spices. The spices are very intriguing to me because I grew up eating bland food and my mom kept only three types of spice in her kitchen.

There are so many different kinds of spice mixes and variations in Indian cuisine. Dhana jiru powder is a great one for me to use and experiment with because it's milder compared to some of the other ones. It doesn't have chili pepper or curry, so it doesn't overwhelm the dish. If I'm cooking Indian for friends or family members, I opt for dhana jiru instead of curry and gharam masala so that it is not too spicy for my guests.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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