Regular Spices That Can Be Used as a Substitute for Cumin

Use of cumin
Cumin is a flowering plant grown as a spice, and is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and eastern India. The flowers of this plant are either white or pink, and are small in size. It produces tiny fruits, each of which contain a single seed, and look very similar to fennel. However, cumin seeds are smaller in size, and also a little darker in color. People who do not like the distinctive aroma of cumin or are allergic to it, look for a substitute.
It is the distinctive aroma of cumin which adds flavor to dishes it is used in. It is the concentration of oil compounds present in the seeds that are responsible for the aroma. The natural sweetness of cumin adds to the sweetness of a dish. It is commonly used in North African, Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Asian (especially Indian) cuisine.
Cumin powder is one of the ingredients in curry powder. Cumin is hotter and has a sharp and slightly bittersweet taste. Ground cumin is more commonly used in Indian and Mexican dishes. It is very commonly used to make salsas and enchiladas, and is a very flavorful seasoning for ground meat. Cumin can also be used to spice up plain rice and breads. There are a number of benefits of it as well. It is often used as a stimulant and an antispasmodic. It is used to treat nausea, diarrhea, as well as morning sickness. However, when one needs to replace this spice, no matter what the reason, there are few options that can do justice as a fill in. Let us check some of them out.
Alternatives for Cumin
It is of absolute importance to remember that nothing can imitate the flavor of cumin entirely. It is in fact, a very difficult spice to replicate. All the options given below can only go so far in filling up or rather standing in for cumin. Use these only if you absolutely must.
Ingredient called for: Amber cumin seeds
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of white cumin seeds
Ingredient called for: Black cumin seeds
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of amber cumin seeds
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ¼ tsp. of caraway seeds (add more if you want)
Nature of the Substitute:
  • These seeds belong to the plant family of Apiaceae, as does cumin. So they are quite similar in nature.
  • Caraway seeds are slightly more bitter than cumin. So be careful with how much you put in.

Best Used:
  • In dishes with cabbage.
  • In sausages.
  • In sauerkraut.
  • In soups.
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of fennel seeds
Nature of the Substitute:
  • Fennel seeds are quite sweet to taste and definitely sweeter than cumin seeds.

Best Used:
  • In dishes with fish.
  • Italian meatballs.
  • Italian sauces.
  • Italian sausages.
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of black cumin seeds
Nature of the Substitute:
  • Black cumin seeds are smaller in size and sweeter to taste.
  • Black cumin is also a lot less bitter and has a more floral aroma.
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of roasted coriander seeds
green-aniseed
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ¼ tsp. of caraway seeds + ¼ tsp. of anise seeds
Nature of the Substitute:
  • Only anise should not be used to replace cumin given that it has a very distinct aroma of its own. Mixing it with caraway alters its aroma to make a favorable cumin alternative.

Best Used:
  • In baked dishes (such as baked eggs).
  • In candies (like tamarind-jaggery candy).
red-chilli-powder
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of pre-blended chili powder
Best Used:
  • In enchiladas.
nigella
Quantity of Cumin Required: ½ tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of nigella (a.k.a. kalonji)
oregano-on-wooden-spoon
Quantity of Cumin Required: 1 tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of oregano + ½ tsp. of coriander
Nature of the Substitute:
  • This replacement might make up for the absent cumin to a certain degree, but it won't go all the way.
pimenton de la Vera
Quantity of Cumin Required: 1 tsp.
To be Replaced with: ½ tsp. of caraway seeds + ½ tsp. of coriander + a dash of pimentón de la Vera
Nature of the Substitute:
  • The pimentón de la Vera will render the flavor slightly smoky.