Cinnamon is a kind of spice that is taken from the inner part of the bark of the trees belongs to the species ‘Cinnamomum’. Cinnamon is famous all over the world with several vernacular names such as ‘cassia vera’ in Sumatra and ‘querfa’ in Arabic language. Cinnamon is obtained from the tree by scrapping the outer part of the tree bark. The outer portion of the cinnamon tree bark is usually discarded and inner part is rolled and dried to form cinnamon. It is usually available in the form of sticks. Though cinnamon looks like a wood but its strong and sweet flavor makes it a flavorful ingredient for various cinnamon recipes. Cinnamon dishes can be fondly served as desserts as well as savory dishes.
History of Cinnamon
Cinnamon as a flavored spice is believed to be the native of Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka is also mentioned by the historians as the native place of cinnamon from where Egyptians have imported it around 2000 BC. For ancient spice traders, cinnamon was always a most saleable spice due to its remote antiquity. Middlemen of spice trade in Mediterranean countries kept its source a secret until 16th century in order to hold the monopoly of cinnamon trade. Arabian, Portuguese and Dutch were famous as cinnamon traders in ancient years and cinnamon trade has always been a big spice trade in several countries.
Culinary Use of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is widely used as a flavoring spice in making numerous cinnamon recipes. Main preparations of cinnamon include chocolates and sweet dishes. Baked food items are major cinnamon dishes that are quite popular in global cuisine such as cinnamon cakes, cinnamon pie and cinnamon roll. Hot and cold beverages also make good use of cinnamon. Hot chocolate drink and cinnamon tea are well-liked beverages. Even some liqueurs are also famous in cinnamon recipes. Savory cinnamon dishes have a special place in various cuisines. Chicken and lamb dishes often use cinnamon sticks or ‘cassia’ as one of the flavoring agent. Usually, cinnamon is used in a ground form and it can also be mixed with other curry powders to provide a flavorful taste to savory dishes.
Cereal based dishes or breads commonly use cinnamon to flavor the dish. In western cuisine, fruits are also flavored with the cinnamon and served in breakfast or dinner. Pickles, soups, stews and spreads are some of the other additions in the list of cinnamon recipes.
Popular Cinnamon Recipes
• Apple cinnamon pie – This is one of the most popular cinnamon recipes across the globe. ‘True cinnamon’ is typically used to make sweet cinnamon dishes.
• Cinnamon tea – This beverage imparts true flavor of cinnamon and it has some medicinal values also.
• Cinnamon applesauce – It is used as a dessert topping or as a bread spread.
• Cinnamon rolls – Cinnamon rolls are well liked breakfast foodstuff in international cuisine. The perfect blend of cinnamon flavor with sugar makes it one of the most liked cinnamon recipes.
• Kalacs (Hungarian cinnamon swirl bread) – It usually looks like rolls but it can be stuffed with nuts.
Cuisines Commonly Making Cinnamon Recipes
Cinnamon or cassia both are used as spice flavors in various global cuisines. Especially, in Mexican cuisine where it is fondly used to flavor various sweet dishes as well as chocolates. Few liqueurs also contain cinnamon flavor and are well liked in Mexican cuisine. Middle Eastern cuisine is also famous for making savory cinnamon dishes. Middle Eastern non-vegetarian dishes use cinnamon to give a sweet flavor to the dish. Even in Indian cuisine, cinnamon has similar uses in savory dishes. Cinnamon tea is also a very famous recipe in these cuisines.
Cinnamon recipes are used to prepare breads and baked food items in American cuisine. Fruit desserts are quite popular in American cuisine. Spice mix including cinnamon powder is fondly used to flavor soups, stews and other sweet and savory dishes in Persian cuisine. This woody spice is a very expensive ingredient and a little powder makes all cinnamon dishes the most flavored dishes.
Preferred Methods of Preparing Cinnamon Dishes
• Baked – Cinnamon dishes that are bread based or cereal based are usually baked in oven and cinnamon imparts its sweet flavor to make the dish flavorful.
• Boiled – Cinnamon sticks are often boiled to make soups and stews. Even lentils are also boiled with cinnamon to get some spice flavor.
• Sprinkled – Cinnamon powder is sprinkled on various dessert dishes as well as on fruits.
• Blended – Cinnamon powder is often blended to make various sauces and spreads.
• Marinated – Cinnamon is fondly added to marinades. It can be added either in ground form or in whole stick form.
• Pickling – In various pickles, cinnamon sticks are added to impart flavor.
Nutritive Value of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a warm spice that has rich quantities of calcium and magnesium along with phosphorous and potassium. Amounts of selenium and sodium are also found in abundance in cinnamon, Zinc, iron and copper are the other three nutrients that can be obtained by consuming cinnamon recipes. Various vitamins are also present in this woody spice. Vitamins that are found in cinnamon are vitamin A, vitamin C and E. Vitamin K and niacin also present in small quantities.
Along with several nutrients, cinnamon and cinnamon dishes are also associated with various health benefits. Some of them are as follows:
• Cinnamon is helpful in curing common cold and chest congestion.
• Digestion problems can also be treated with the consumption of cinnamon.
• Bad breadth and other tooth troubles are cured with cinnamon preparations such as cinnamon oil.
• Ailments like type-2 diabetes and colon cancer can easily be treated with this rare and expensive spice.
• Stress and depression like conditions can also be treated with the calming properties of cinnamon.
Buying and Storing of Cinnamon
While buying either ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick, it should be kept in mind that the cinnamon should give a nice aroma. Ingredient without aromatic smell is not suitable for buying. The powder or sticks both should be free from moisture and should always be bought from a trusted grocery shop.
Cinnamon can be stored in an air-tight jar for up to six months to one year in room temperature. It can also be kept in refrigerator if the product has to be stored for longer period of time. Cooked and leftover cinnamon dishes can be kept in fridge for not more than 2-3 days.
Types of Cinnamon
Cinnamon is broadly classified into two types:
• True cinnamon – It is also known as ‘Ceylon’ cinnamon due to the fact that it is native to Ceylon, Sri Lanka. It has citrus flavor and less of sweet taste. Various English and Mexican cinnamon dishes served as desserts make use of ‘true cinnamon’ only.
• Cassia – Cassia is also known as ‘Chinese cinnamon’. Its strong and sweet flavor makes it a popular ingredient in American cinnamon recipes. Cassia is mostly grown in Indonesia.
• Romans believed that cinnamon has a sacred smell and hence they burn it in funerals.
• Cinnamon is a spice used to flavor cola beverages.