Cumin Vs. Comino: What’s The Difference?


A scoop of cumin inside of a wooden spoon

Cumin is a spice widely used in Indian cuisine, among other things. However, coming looks the same as Comino, which raises the question of whether there are differences between the two or not. That’s exactly what you’ll learn next, among other things.

There is no difference between cumin and Comino because cumin is an English word and Comino is a Spanish word for the same spice. Thus, you can use both cumin and Comino interchangeably.

There’s nothing much to the answer. Comino is the same spice as cumin, yet the name difference exists because two languages, English and Spanish, exist. Now, I invite you to read further as there’s much more to learn about this spice that’s among the world’s most popular ones.

What Is Cumin & Comino?

Cumin or Comino is one of the world’s most popular spices found in most cuisines and cultures worldwide. This includes Indian, Asian, Mexican, North African, Mediterranean cuisines, etc.

Cumin has spread very well globally, but it’s native to Mediterranean cuisine and originates from countries like Greece, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and so on.

So, cumin is used in various cultures, but what are some foods cumin or Comino in Spanish is used for: Here are some popular foods and uses for cumin/Comino is used;

  • Stews
  • Sauces
  • Dips
  • Rice
  • Seasoning mixtures
  • Vegetables like carrots and beets
  • Meats like lamb and beef
  • Vegan foods like tofu & tempeh

As you can see, cumin is used in virtually anything, thanks to its taste. Speaking of the taste of cumin, it’s often used in addition to other spices to give depth to the flavor, which is why it can be used in so many foods. It also gives an earthy, woodsy, and warm taste which it’s perfect for cooked foods. A hint of lemon is also noticeable.

A word of caution, though. Cumin is quite strong and bitter, so you should be careful when adding it to your dish. It’s better to add less cumin so that you can add more later instead of too much that can’t be removed.

Finally, cumin comes in different shapes: seeds and ground. Ground cumin is made from cumin seeds, and both can be used to flavor food, yet are slightly different.

Cumin seeds are commonly added to butter and oil, so the flavor is released into the liquid. Seeds are also used when cooking rise to release taste to the steam. In contrast, ground cumin, also called cumin powder, is used to flavor a whole dish, such as stew or sauce, because it will spread across the dish much better than seeds.

Is Cumin a Spice or Herb?

A popular question I often hear is whether cumin is a spice or a herb. I can understand where the wonderment comes from as its appearance looks like both. So how is it, is cumin a spice or a herb?

Although cumin is used as a spice in many cultures and dishes, it’s, in fact, a herb. Cumin comes from a flowering plant called Cuminum cyminum and is made from its dried seeds.

Cuminum cyminum is a plant from the Apiaceae family, so cumin is relative to other herbs from the family, such as parsley, cilantro, and dill.

Cumin is often confused with caraway seeds which look almost identical to it, yet it’s far from the same thing. Unlike cumins enriching earthy flavor, caraway seeds taste like licorice and citrus with a more bitter taste.

If you want to tell cumin and caraway seeds apart, you can if you know what to look for. Cumin seeds aren’t as dark, and the seeds are less curved and bigger than caraway seeds.

Are There Substitutes for Cumin?

If you are cooking and notice you don’t have cumin but would like to enhance your food’s taste with that distinctive warm earthy flavor, what can you do? Luckily, there are some substitutes to use in cumin’s place, so stay tuned for them below.

Coriander

Coriander is from the same family as cumin, so that it can be substituted in its place. Although, this isn’t the same with all herbs from the Apiaceae family.

You can use coriander seeds or ground coriander in the place of cumin; however, don’t mistake it for cilantro. Cilantro is made from the stems and leaves of coriander, which isn’t as good of a substitute as coriander seeds or ground seeds. Although, you can use cilantro too.

The taste of coriander and cumin is quite similar to the earthy flavor with a hint of lemon. However, cumin is deeper in taste.

Chili Powder

Chili powder is my favorite substitute for cumin as it gives a slight kick and is usually included with cumin! However, you can’t have chili powder because some products may include cumin, whereas others don’t.

Another thing to remember is that chili powder includes other spices like obviously ground chilies but may contain ground garlic, cayenne, onion, and salt. Check the specific chili powder label, and you can estimate whether it’s a great substitute for cumin.

For example, chili powder with cumin as its main ingredient can easily be used in cumin’s place for stews and sauces. However, using it for salmon or rice in cumin’s place won’t necessarily produce a great outcome. Chili powder also adds a red color and might not fit all dishes either, at least when the idea is to replace cumin.

Curry Powder

Similarly to chili powder, curry usually contains cumin or even has it as the main ingredient. Again, cumin won’t be the only spice in the mix, so be sure to consider that and real the specific curry’s label to know what other spices it contains and whether it’s a good fit for your dish.

Thanks to the versatile ingredients, curry powder gives a ton of flavor to your dish. Common ingredients used in curry powder are turmeric, ginger, black pepper, garlic, etc. Keep in mind that curry powder turns your dish yellow due to turmeric.

Here You’ll Find My Favorite Kitchen Equipment.

Thanks for reading this article! I hope that it brought you real value that you can benefit from in your personal life! Here is my top kitchen equipment that I seriously couldn’t live without, and I think they could ease your life as well as they do mine.

  • Knife set: As a chef, I can’t stand dull, poor-quality knives without any design. My absolute favorite kitchen knife set is the Gangshan 3-Piece Knife Set. It comes with a handcrafted 8″ chef’s knife and a 3.5″ paring knife. What I love even more than these flawless knives is the walnut knife block which is incredible and unique.
  • Skillet: In addition to knives and my unwillingness to bargain with its quality is the cookware. My favorite skillet is Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. This particular skillet is 9″ in size, it is heavy, it gets very hot, which is what is required to get a good sear, and it is just beautiful, as are all Le Creuset products. Le Creuset doesn’t need an introduction as a brand, as it is one of the world’s rated brands.
  • Food processor: I remember when I hadn’t a food processor at home. It wasn’t easy! But now, when I use my Ninja BN601 Food Processor, I can make anything super fast, which saves me many hours per week. This food processor has 1000 watts of power and four options, including chopping, slicing, dough, and purees. I also like the middle-sized 9cup (2.1l) bowl as it is big enough yet not too big to look unfitting in my kitchen.
  • Tweezers: Dalstrong Professional Cooking Tweezers are like tongs but much more elegant, thin, and easy to use. They are great for virtually anything, but flipping, turning, and grabbing with them is easy and makes cooking much more fun! These Dalstrgon tongs are titanium coated and very durable. Also, I like the black color instead of the everyday steel.

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Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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