Someone asked me the other day what spices go into my Chickpea Curry blend. As I rattled off the list, I was asked a question that I often get. I add both cassia and true cinnamon to this blend and I almost always have to explain what cassia is. So I thought I’d write about this. If nothing else, it might score you some trivia points some day!
In reality there are many kinds of cinnamon that are roughly broken down into cassia and true cinnamon:
What’s commonly sold as cinnamon in the US is actually cassia cinnamon/chinese cinnamon or just cassia mostly from China, India and Vietnam. It has a more intense and less delicate flavor and is a harder and thicker stick than the real cinnamon. The bark of branches and even the trunk of the tree is used in making cassia. The species Cinnamomum aromaticum is used for cassia production in China. Other species are from Vietnam (Cinnamomum loureiroi) and Burma (Cinnamomum burmannii). The latter are very similar in flavor and texture and are also sold as cinnamon in the US. Burmese cinnamon has the least essential oil content and is therefore the cheapest.
True cinnamon aka sweet cinnamon or ceylon cinnamon has deeper and more subtle flavor. The texture is flaky as the sticks are made up of many thin layers. Only the bark of thin shoots are used in the production of ceylon cinnamon. True cinnamon is grown primarily in Sri Lanka, parts of Southern India, Bangladesh, Java and Sumatra. If you want to buy the real thing, look out for the scientific name Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum.
Click here for a recipe that uses cinnamon or cassia. Looking for Veena’s Market recipe kits that use Ceylon Cinnamon? They are: