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Cumin vs Coriander

This is a close look at a bowl of cumin powder surrounded by cumin seeds.

When it comes to the botanical world, coriander and cumin are basically cousins. This means that the two can be swapped out for each other when you are making delicious Indian food, which both are used quite a bit in making, or any other savory dishes you are cooking. In other words, they make great substitutes for each other but there are differences when it comes to cumin vs coriander so you will need to keep that in mind.

While both cumin and coriander bring an earthy and almost lemon-type note to dishes, coriander’s heat level is a little milder. Also, coriander has a sweeter flavor to it while cumin is a bit more bitter-tasting so coriander may not be the best cumin substitute.

These spices do come from different plants. This means their nutritional values are not the same and they also look different from each other. Cumin boasts a flat, more narrow shape while coriander seed is bigger and have a more round shape to them.

Both will bring some heat to your dish but cumin tends to offer a darker, flavor than coriander does since it has a lighter, brighter flavor.

Related: Types of Cumin | How to Store Cumin | Types of Food | Types of Condiments | Types of Garnish | Cumin Substitute Options | What Goes With Cumin | Types of Herbs

Differences Between Cumin and Coriander

So what are the differences between cumin and coriander? Well, let’s start with the main difference between the two herbs which is found in their flavors. While they can both work well when placed together, they are actually each very unique and taste differently from one another. They also look different since they come from two totally different plants so they also have different nutritional values from each other.

What is Cumin?

A bowl of cumin powder along with cumin seeds on a plate.

Native to the Middle East, cumin is part of a flowering plant and its seeds are the part we use for flavoring the different dishes that we cook.

Cumin, pronounced Q-Men, is sometimes referred to as Jeera or Jerrakam which is the Hindu version of the word. It is normally used when referring to cumin tea, also known as jeera water, which is very popular in the weight loss industry.

What is Coriander?

A bunch of dried coriander seeds with a wooden spoon on a table.

Also, an herb, the seeds, and fresh coriander leaf of the coriander plant are both used in cooking, and depending on where you reside, it is sometimes referred to as cilantro or Chinese parsley. Coriander is part of both the celery and carrot families and is related to the parsley family also.

Coriander seeds are also known as Dhania in Hindi and are pronounced Caw-ri-an-der. These seeds are sometimes ground but also used as whole seeds in cooking and are great to have in your spice rack.

Cumin vs Coriander

Cumin and coriander taste very different from one another but are both known for each being an Indian spice. While they both have an earthy flavor to them as many spices do, they bring the heat to your recipe but that is where the similarities end.

When it comes to its flavor profile, cumin has a more smokey and nutty flavor than ground coriander seed does in it and even has a hint of citrus to the point of being a little bitter. It is commonly used in curries, chili, and Latin American dishes that will give it that smokey flavor and heat that those meals need.

Coriander seeds have a brighter flavor to them that is both a floral and citrusy flavor, tasting with a much deeper flavor if the seeds are ground into a powder.

The seeds of cumin and coriander look different than each other as the cumin seeds are long and narrow and really small like a tiny piece of rice. They are usually a light brown or medium brown in color and boast lighter stripes that run the length of each seed.

Coriander seeds, also known as fresh cilantro to some, are more round in shape and are pointed on one end with a tiny nub which is where they were attached to the stem of the plant they grew on. They are also a light brown in color but with a more yellow tint to them and no stripes.

When it comes to nutritional values, both cumin and coriander pack a lot of nutrients for as small as they are. The cumin seed has about 105 calories per one ounce while coriander seeds come in at 83 calories. Cumin has about 6.2 grams of fat wall coriander only has five.

When it comes to carbohydrates per ounce of each, cumin comes in at 12.4 carbs while coriander has 15.4 and each of them has very little sugar in them. Coriander has more fiber per one ounce than cumin seeds do but has less protein.

Ways to Use Both Cumin and Coriander

A bunch of cumin seeds being weighed in a store.

The combination of cumin and coriander is seen most frequently in Indian cuisine, including when it comes to dishes such as Chana Masala, Aloo Gobi, Palak Paneer, and samosas. These two spices can be put to great use in many other recipes as well and they can also be used with a spice blend with other spices, including chili powder

You can use them in a spice blend with other spices to make a rub for different meats, including pork chops, steak, lamb, or chicken. They can be added to chili or other soups and stews as well as to flavor your roasted vegetables in the oven or on the grill. You can add these spices when you are cooking things like quinoa, couscous, or rice or use them to spice up your dressings, dips, and dressings.

You can even crack the seeds to mix into honey that will create an amazing spicy yet sweet flavor combination or pour hot water over the seeds to create a very calming soothing tea or hot cocoa.

Benefits of Cumin Seeds and the Cumin Plant

A bunch of cumin seeds being harvested from the plant's branches.

Cumin is considered to be one of the healthiest spices that you can use in your cooking and the cumin plant actually has some medicinal purposes, such as it is known to improve digestion by riveting up the activity of enzymes in your gut and helping you to be able to better process many nutrients including fats.

Cumin is also a very great source of iron and it has antibacterial properties. This means it can cut down on foodborne illnesses which is always a plus. The cumin plant, like most plants, boasts a wide variety of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins that can support your overall health and well-being.

Benefits of the Coriander Leaves and Seed

A close look at a bunch of dried coriander seeds along with the leaves and the essential oil.

Coriander boasts a ton of antioxidants and nutrients that can protect and improve your heart health as well as your metabolic system along with other general health improvements it can make for you. It has many great digestive benefits and it is very much an anti-bacterial in your body which can prevent infections, such as urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and foodborne illnesses.

It can also enhance the health of your brain since it has many anti-inflammatory properties and is even being considered as a possible treatment for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease anxiety, and panic attacks.

FAQs About Cumin and Coriander

Are cumin and turmeric the same thing?

No, cumin and turmeric are actually completely different spices since cumin seeds are used to add flavor to various dishes and turmeric is more like a ginger spice. They are both used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine thought.

Are coriander and cilantro the same thing?

Coriander and cilantro come from the same plant and the fresh leaves are called cilantro while others simply refer to the fresh cilantro leaves as coriander leaves. Once ground or used as seeds, it is normally referred to by most people as coriander.

What are the best substitutes for cumin and coriander?

Cumin is sometimes replaced by the caraway seed or chili powder in dishes while coriander seeds can be swapped out for fennel seed or cardamom seeds.