Cumin has been extensively used in many parts of the world, namely, the Indian Subcontinent, Latin America, Africa or even Asia. The slightly bitter flavor of cumin is a great addition to many dishes and drives many people to love using it. Furthermore, cumin has many health benefits.
Nevertheless, cumin is not ubiquitous. Cumin is popular in India, Africa or some Asian countries. However, in other regions in the world, it is not so common. Plus, not many people are aware of its benefits and versatile applications. Its bitterness is another obstacle for gaining interests, which I have witnessed myself. In these cases, the best solution is to look for cumin substitutes.
List of Great Cumin Substitutes
If you hope to use cumin as a spice, but you are short of it, you will have something with the same taste and qualities to guarantee your dish’s flavor after reading this article. Just in case there is a lack of cumin in your region, here are eight examples of cumin substitutes that you can use to get the closest flavor of dishes.
#1. Caraway Seeds
One of the best substitutes for cumin seeds is caraway seed. Both of them belong to the same family, which is parsley. As a result, there are many similarities in their taste or even appearance. Both of these seeds are very aromatic.
A slight difference is that cumin seems to surpass caraway regarding the strong taste. An advantage of using caraway seeds is that you will not witness any change in the dish’s color.
If you want the closer taste to cumin seeds, the recommendation is to use caraway seeds with anise seeds. This combination will help you reach the closer boundary to the taste of cumin.
However, it requires a lot of attention because Anise is sweet and unless you pay attention to the ratio, the likelihood is that the sweetness of anise will overpower others.
#2. Chili Powder
The next amazing cumin substitute that we would like to mention is chili powder. It is not surprising at all if you have ever looked closely at the components of chili powder. Cumin makes up for a large proportion of this powder’s content.
The distinctive flavor will be what you receive thanks to chili powder, but there would be no the bitterness of cumin anymore.
Besides, it should be noted that in most cases, chili powder will make the color of your dishes change. The range of changes is dependent on the amount of chili powder you use in the food, so make sure that you have your desired amount.
But you can be excited to know that chili powder provides many similar health benefits.
On the other hand, the content of cumin in chili powder is different among various types. Therefore, you should check the percentage of it before purchasing the powder.
In fact, some types of pure chili powder provide a zero amount of cumin, and as a result, you should not use it as the substitute. Otherwise, it does not bring the desired results for you.
#3. Ground Coriander
Another member of the same family will turn into one of the best cumin substitutes you can find at the supermarket.
However, ground coriander has a lower ranking than caraway seeds just because you will not replicate the same flavor as cumin for one-hundred percent. You can sense the earthy and lemony flavor as you do with cumin, but it is short of the heat.
A possible solution to maximize the similarity of flavor is to use ground coriander along with chili powder. This combination will help you achieve the more exactly same flavor.
#4. Curry Powder
Even though there are significant differences in the curry powder’s ingredients, it is likely that cumin always accounts for a considerable proportion.
Normally, you can find many ingredients in curry powder, such as black pepper, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, mustard or coriander. All of them deliver a spicy, sweet and earthy taste.
Thus, curry powder is the next cumin substitute that you should bear in mind. A slight disadvantage of this powder is that the color of your dish will not be completely similar due to some of its ingredients, namely, turmeric.
You should start with half and then, change the amount of getting what you want to taste.
#5. Garam Masala
Garam masala is a spice coming from India, which is also one of the main markets for cumin. Interestingly, cumin is also an important ingredient of this spice, along with nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and black pepper.
This cumin substitute does not cause any change in the color, so you will be more excited to use it in cooking. The suggestion is to start with half only. Remember that you can always pour more at any moment, which is less complicated than to remove it.
If you are a big fan of cumin’s bitterness, but it is impossible to access to cumin in your place, turmeric will be a great substitute.
It is undeniable that this spice is much more popular and can be easily found in most parts of the world. Not only are they similar in the flavor, but they also contain a significant amount of iron, which is responsible for many health benefits.
As mentioned above, turmeric might make you fail to achieve your expected dish’s appearance. But it is still a very great cumin substitute thanks to its availability and content.
#7. Fennel Seeds
Despite the fact that fennel seeds are very sweet, it is still commonly claimed that they could serve as a great cumin substitute. It is particularly useful when you are trying to cook fish, make Italian sausages or meatballs.
The recommended amount does not change at all, which means that you can use as much as cumin.
The difference between oregano and cumin is very clear, especially in the places where they are popular. You might wonder why we should use a common spice in Italian cuisine to replace cumin. It is reasonable to some extent, as oregano alone cannot become a substitute for cumin. The solution is to combine it with coriander.
For example, if you need about a half teaspoon of cumin, the recommendation for you is to use coriander and oregano (half a teaspoon for each). You will achieve the expected flavor as you do with cumin.
Replacing cumin, or any other spices, in a recipe is a very challenging task. It is unrealistic to expect that we can replicate the same flavor completely. However, with attention and awareness, you can reach a step closer to what you desire.
We hope that these cumin substitutes can allow you to enjoy your recipe even if you cannot find cumin. Along with your creativity, we believe that some transformations even lead to a new and interesting flavor.
In this circumstance, we would like to hear about your experience. Why don’t you share your choice by commenting? It would be a great contribution to our community.