The flavour of cinnamon is quite delicate, aromatic, sweet and mildly hot.
It is the inner bark of a tropical evergreen tree, and is harvested as strips of bark rolled one inside another. The pale-brown to tan strips are generally thin, the spongy outer bark having been scraped off. The best varieties are pale and parchment-like in appearance.
Cinnamon is very similar to cassia, and outside India or Asia little distinction is given, though cassia tends to dominate the market. Cassia, or Cinnamomum cassia, is also known as Chinese cinnamon, which is the most common commercial item you will find.
Cinnamon is also available ground, and can be distinguished from cassia by its lighter colour and much finer powder. There are few recipes in this book for ground cinnamon. All the recipes will start with using cinnamon sticks or quills. It is required ingredient in many of the masalas mentioned in this book.
True cinnamon is available from specialist spice merchants and good Indian grocers. Make sure you get cinnamon and not cassia.