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Are Cinnamon and Dalchini the Same Thing?

Slofoodgroup Team October 18, 2023

Cinnamon, a spice celebrated for its warm, sweet flavor, and somewhat spicy flavor has been a staple in kitchens around the world for centuries, frequenting everything from baked goods to seasonal beverages and sweet to savory. As is the case with most spices that span the globe, cinnamon is known by many names. In Indian cuisine, "dalchini" is simply the Hindi word for cinnamon. However, the use of the term "dalchini" can spark confusion among those less familiar with its regional name. To clarify this linguistic variation, we'll delve into the world of this spice.

Exploring Dalchini Within The World of Cinnamon

Botanical Origins of Cinnamon

Cinnamon and dalchini are, in essence, interchangeable names for the same spice, derived from the bark of various trees belonging to the genus Cinnamomum. "True" cinnamon is scientifically known as Cinnamomum verum, often referred to as "Ceylon cinnamon" due to its origins in Sri Lanka. "Dalchini" is the Hindi term for cinnamon, predominantly used in Indian cooking. It's important to note that while "true" cinnamon is the most renowned and sought-after variety, there is another type called Cassia, which is more common and has a slightly different flavor profile. Dalchini can refer to both true cinnamon and Cassia, depending on the region and local preferences, but it should be noted that Cassia is the most prevalent cinnamon variety in India cooking, so when a recipe calls for dalchini, it is usually referring to Cassia.

Flavor Profiles of Dalchini and the Two Primary Varieties of Cinnamon

When it comes to flavor, dalchini has the same basic characteristics known to be present in various cinnamon varieties. This flavor is largely due to a naturally occurring organic compound known as cinnamaldehyd contained in both Cassia and Ceylon cinnamons, though higher levels are found in the Cassia variety. Because the word, dalchini is most commonly referring to Cassia cinnamon, that is the flavor profile of interest to this article.

Due to the high levels of cinnamaldehyde, Cassia has a very strong and very complex flavor profile, often described as warm, sweet, and spicy to taste. True cinnamon, or Ceylon cinnamon, with lower levels of cinnamaldehyde, much more subtle. It is very delicate in overall flavor with much less heat and a highly desirable lingering sweetness and soft citrusy notes.

Culinary Uses for Cassia vs Ceylon Cinnamon

Cinnamon, or dalchini, is a versatile spice that enhances a wide range of culinary creations. It should be noted, that though most Indian cooking uses Cassia cinnamon, you do not need to feel limited to this particular using only one cinnamon variety just because the recipe mentions, dalchini.

As with any recipe that mentions cinnamon, without being specific to type, it is up to the interpretation of the person reading the recipe. If you find cinnamon, in general, to easily overpower dishes, you might want to consider using Ceylon cinnamon, but if you want that cinnamon flavor to really stand out, Cassia might be the right choice for you.

Amongst pastry chefs, in particular, Ceylon is often the preferred choice, because it provides an added layer of experienced “sweetness”, without incorporating additional sugar into recipes. In savory dishes, such as Indian curries, braises, and grilled meats, however, Cassia cinnamon is often preferred, known for adding depth and complexity to the dishes’ overall flavor profile.

It should be noted that just because Cassia is the primary cinnamon variety that those speaking Hindi are referring to when mentioning dalchini, does not mean that they restrict their employment of cinnamon to Cassia. Ceylon is more costly, but when available and afforded, it is often the preferred choice for many Indian desserts like kheer or gulab jamun.

Cinnamon and dalchini are indeed the same spice, and the term "dalchini" simply represents the Hindi name for cinnamon. Regardless what you call it or what variety you are looking for, you can find a what you are looking for amongst our many cinnamon products.