The real deal is native of Sri Lanka, which produces 80-90% of the world’s total cinnamon crop. It comes from the bark of a laurel-like tree, peeled from the thinner branches and left to dry. Once dried, the curled-up pieces are packed, one inside the other, and cut into short lengths to form the sticks as we know them. Much of the cinnamon found in supermarkets is the cheaper Cassia variety, a Chinese relative.
In ancient times cinnamon was very highly prized, and regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for the gods!
Health Benefits of Cinnamon
An anti-oxidant, cinnamon can help to relieve stomach aches and irritable bowel syndrome. Known for its blood-sugar lowering effects, it also has beneficial effects on insulin resistance.
Cinnamon is wonderful served in both sweet and savoury dishes. It works beautifully in Indian curries (for example, my Lamb curry and Biryani recipes) and it is also one of the main components in Chai spice and Garam Masala blend, also found in this book. I love to incorporate it in most of my desserts, cakes and breakfast dishes as it adds a warming touch. A classic combination that we all know and love are cinnamon and apple. You’ll find it in my apple pie galette!
When buying cinnamon, look for the real Sri Lankan variety whenever possible, and store the sticks and powdered spice in separate containers. The sticks will last up to 2 years and the powder, up to one year.