When looking at turmeric vs cumin it can be easy to fall into the trap of just swapping one for the other. This can lead to missing out on the essential health benefits as well as colors and tastes of each of these wonderful spices.
Turmeric Vs Cumin In The Kitchen
When we look at turmeric vs cumin in recipes it is often a case of using both to develop a richer depth of flavor.
Turmeric offers a vibrant color and a bitter back note to any meal. Cumin can be used as seeds toasted at the start of cooking or ground and added during the process. Offering an earthiness with a sweet note when cooked through. When used together your recipe has the starts of a great meal.
Turmeric is a rhizome and you may think of it as a fat tuber or root. Grown in Tropical or sub-Tropical conditions it matches well with foods from those areas as well. When we harvest the rhizome it needs to be washed and sliced thinly to then be dried into the vibrant color we so love. However it stains nearly everything it comes into contact with, making it a perfect dye for wool.
Cumin is an annual from the parsley family and we collect the seeds to use as a spice in cooking. Used either whole and toasted or as a ground powder and added to the start of cooking or even to stews or casseroles that need a little earthy, musky punch.
I have used cumin as a replacement for turmeric in recipes. Only when desperate though as there is a lot then missing from the dish, not just color but that bitter note that is quite pleasant when mixed with other flavors. You cannot use turmeric to replace cumin though as it does not offer the musky, earthiness that you would otherwise want, but does change the color of the meal quite significantly.
Turmeric Vs Cumin Health Benefits
The health benefits of both cumin and turmeric have a long history and are relatively well documented as well as researched in modern settings.
Turmeric is used traditionally to treat inflammations and can be taken either topically as a golden milk type of drink or applied topically in salves or muscle rubs. Cumin is used to prevent muscle spasms but we also know if the use to ease stomach bloating and associated gas.
I wanted to learn more about the make up of vitamins and minerals in each of these ingredients so I have compiled this table from information at Nutrition Data. This is for 1 tablespoon equivalent of cumin seeds and ground turmeric, I have also added the % of your RDA in the table as well to allow you to see more easily where you can get your vitamins from.
|Vitamin / Mineral||Cumin Seeds||Ground Turmeric|
|Vitamin A||76.2IU 2%||~|
|Vitamin C||0.5mg 1%||1.7mg 3%|
|Vitamin B6||0.01mg 1%||0.1mg 6%|
|Calcium||55.9mg 6%||12.4mg 1%|
|Iron||4.0mg 22%||2.8mg 16%|
|Magnesium||22mg 5%||13mg 3%|
|phosphorous||29.9mg 3%||18.1mg 2%|
|Potassium||107mg 3%||170mg 5%|
|Manganese||0.2mg 10%||0.5mg 26%|
For me the really interesting points here are that a usual size portion of these spices can have a massive impact on the percentage of your recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. Minerals like manganese and iron are found in large quantities in these spices and are easily absorbed by the body.
The main takeaway for me is that adding these spices to my cooking is of benefit to the flavor profile. It is also massively beneficial to my health and the health of my family as well.
What Next & Further Reading
From what you can see there are real culinary benefits to using both of these spices in your home cooking. There is more to both of them in terms of using in topical treatments and getting the most from their health giving properties as well. The more I learn about the ingredients I am adding to my cooking the happier I feel. All of those traditional dishes that your mum used to make have some very real modern health benefits as well as being very real comfort food.
I hope to have inspired you to use more cumin and turmeric in your own cooking. If you are interested in learning how to grow your own turmeric we do this at home and then dehydrate it for making a powder. Have a look at an article I have written here about growing in colder climates. In the past I have also grown our own cumin. It takes a lot of space and is great for pollinators if you are interested have a look at my guide available here.
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