Is tumeric and cumin the same?

Trying to distinguish turmeric and cumin on sight alone can be an exercise in absurdity, especially when you are not a professional chef. Let’s face it, these spices have quite similar colors with little distinctions between them. However, despite their subtle likeness in appearance, both spices vary drastically in flavor profile and use cases.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a tropical perennial root plant that belongs to the ginger family. This rhizome has been around for thousands of years, mostly cultivated in Southeast Asia as traditional medicine and food seasoning.

The color

This Asian spice is bright yellow or orange-yellow hence its nickname “Indian Saffron”.

Flavor Profile

However, there is nothing mild about its slightly warm earthy taste.

taste described by professionals

The fundamental chemical explanation behind this sharpness relates to curcumin (as well as various other compounds) found inside turmeric root.

Fun fact though: if you ever come across someone describing turmeric’s taste like mustard powder – chances are they have never tasted good-quality fresh organic turmeric!

So next time someone throws that weird comparison at you – make sure roll your eyes so hard others hear it from where they’re standing.


  • Curries
  • Smoothies (duh!)
  • Dyes (textile industry mainly)
  • Anti-inflammatory remedies
    handy example would be Golden Milk

What exactly IS Cumin?

Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum), also known as “Jeera” (Sanskrit), originated from Egypt but expanded over time; today it accounts for significant agricultural cultivation worldwide.

Its hue

Ground cumin looks a lot more khaki-tan than its beautiful “yellow” cousin Tumeric – this makes differentiating between the two while holding glasses of cocktails easier (true story)!

Flavor Profile

It has this complex earthy, slightly spicy flavor that sometimes feels almost smoky.


Cumin seeds are used not only in traditional syrups and bakery but also as a key ingredient in various forms of food culture:
– Chili
– Mexican sauces/salsas
– Rice dishes (they always smell marvelous)

What else?

In addition to being quite versatile when it comes to its kitchen applications, cumin combines excellently with quite different spices like such as coriander and turmeric itself.

Another unusual fact about cumin is that it represents one of the most utilized essential oils globally; Used both orally and topically for health purposes such as digestion support or skin aid.

To make this worse – there ARE times you may need Cumin instead of Turmeric- ought oh!

How They Can Be Differentiated

What makes distinguishing Turmeric from Cumin kinda easy is the narrow distinction between their taste profiles.

While both have wide-ranging applications, knowing how and where they differ will prove useful!

Tumeric Cumin
Coming From: an extraordinary brilliant-looking rhizome! A seed-producing “annual” herb-shrub.
Range Applications: Dyes (including fabric dyes!), medicinal use..etc… Powdered spice form cooking enhancer / health-supplement ingredient
Color Hue differences ranging yellow/orange -ornaments seasonings for hair/scalp added Mixture-Khaki tan-ish
How they SMELL? // Taste-profile in short word,s Creative pungent slight citrus turmeric-like aromatics Pleasantly earth-sweet/smokily robust
Which popular Food Works best with them? You can’t go wrong adding it to your favorite Curry! Cumin and Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern or a well-spiced chili;

In ~Conclusion~

Although Turmeric and Cumin look so shockingly similar that many people often confuse them with each other consequentially overlooking the significant differences in their respective taste profiles, applications and basic make-up.

From one herbivore to another – I implore you – plzz take your seasoning game up an extra level without confusion your cumin from turmeric (what? no need for surprises when entertaining folks!)

PS Whilst both can be utilized topically utilize essential oils derived from plants or dried powders for maximum health benefits of either spice.

Disclaimer: We are taking no responsibility if you end up accidentally adding ground Turmeric instead of Cumin to your dish!

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