Coriander Vs. Cumin Vs. Turmeric – What Are The Differences

In the world of passionate cooks, you have to know how to add the different spices to give your food that special touch. In most cases, it takes experimentation to get the spices right.

But you aren’t safe when you use every other spice everywhere. This is why we want to bring to your attention the three most common spices today; coriander, cumin, and turmeric.

I must say that the three spices, coriander, cumin, and turmeric, will deliver the different characteristic flavors but also enough heat to the dishes.

Although these spices are most common in food, Westerners also use alternative medicines to cure some ailments. Notice that coriander, cumin, and turmeric are still spices of interest when you think of health.

I know we are more than interested in the differences. But the main difference we have is the flavor. In most cases, they blend to make a great meal. Nonetheless, you will also have some strong similarities.


Whats coriander?

coriander seeds

Depending on where you are at, the coriander comes from cilantro. It’s the herb where you will use all parts of the plant; the seeds, the stem, and the leaves. But don’t be mistaken; it’s different from cilantro. When you’re out shopping for it, you should know that you can use either pre-ground ones or the whole seeds too.

You will notice a distinct feature of the seeds you know. They come to you as slightly pointed ends, yet it maintains around the feature. The seeds are also light brown and almost yellow.

We like to mention that this one is slightly related to parsley, and you can also set it in the category of the carrots and celery families. Coriander is called Dhania in Hindi, and the name is also adopted in parts of Africa and the middle east.

It will maintain earth, tart, and sweet taste. Therefore, when you crush the seeds to make the powder, you will have a citrusy flavor. So if you’re going or roast the seeds in the pan, you can be sure to have an, even more heighten flavor but also the aroma.

They come in both ground and whole form, but the problem then is that if you use the ground one and keep it over a long time, it will soon lose its flavor. Those who like to make curries at home know best to grind them fresh or, better yet, use the dhania leaves.

What is cumin?


Cumin and coriander, first of all, complement each other, and that’s why you will always find them in homes where they like to make curries.

Here’s the thing though the cumin is the spice that they make from the seeds of a flowering cumin plant. This one is a native of the middles east, and note that you will find it more there.

So although you will have it in the middle east cuisines, it’s also common in other cuisines.

Do you know the term Jeera in Hindi? That is also how the Indians call their cumin spice? So the cumin seeds come in as long but also tiny seeds. You will find that it’s often light to medium brown. Look at the seeds again, and you would think they are the small pointed rice grains.

The cumin has a nutty, earthy, but also smoky flavor, especially when you roast it. But it will have some level of pleasant bitterness. Now you will have it in two forms as well they sell it as ground seeds and sometimes also as whole seeds.

The ground form of cumin they make from the roasted and then powdered cumin seeds. The ground ones will be stronger in flavor because they roasted it, and I’m sure you will like the aroma.

When you’re looking at the coriander and the cumin, expect the cumin to be slightly darker.

In most cases, you will have cumin used in the masalas, curry powder, and even in different styles of chillis.

What is turmeric


This is another one of the common spice that you will find from the turmeric plant. This is native to southeast Asia, and remember they will always grow it commercially in this region. Whenever you are out making the curries, you will primarily use turmeric.

This one is in the ginger family, and remember, it comes in as a rhizome. So this one, don’t confuse it with ginger either. It comes from a root that looks more like ginger. It’s widespread in Indian curries as well. And it has curcumin which is responsible for the yellow color.

This one has a warm and bitter taste, but it’s responsible for the deep yellow color in the curry powder. Regardless the turmeric plant roots are commonly used to heal certain diseases. This is what most of those plant medicines use.

If you are into plant medicine, make sure you consume turmeric. This is one of the most common ingredients in Ayurveda.

Most people who like to use it enjoy it for its rich color but also the flavor. I mean you can use it for cooking all the different foods of your choice.

Turmeric vs. Cumin

We have to break them down like this for you to understand them best. These are common in Indian curries, and of course, we should understand the flavors to know why people like them too much.

I like that they complement each other. Nonetheless, we can’t forget that the two are still not the same even though we say they complement one another.

Both of them will work significantly in sweets, soups, sauces, and curries. When you’re using turmeric, you should have the cumin to boost the flavor even further. They are both originally from southeast Asia.



Before we even go deep into the difference, the very first difference you’ll notice is the appearance. Notice that they have two different appearances. I bet you will never mix them up. In their natural form, turmeric is a rhizome, and it looks more like natural ginger.

Cumin, though, features the use of tiny seeds and long, and you would think it’s brown rice grains. The seeds come to you in yellowish-brown color, so they still stick out as the different types.

When ground though, the turmeric comes in yellow color. This is the unique thing about it. Of all the different kinds of spices, this may be the only one with a rich yellow color. Most cuisines fancy the yellow color in both their drinks and the food as well.

For the cumin, you will have th4e yellowish-brown color, but still, you can comfortably tell it apart from the turmeric. Although it’s bright-colored yellowish-brown, it’s not as yellow as the turmeric.

The taste

I know the primary essence of these spices are the taste and the flavors too. Turmeric will stand out with its spicy, bitter flavors. Notice that this will then add an earthy tone to the flavors as well.

The cumin has a nutty flavor with the perfect heat flavors too. Notice that it will always have a lemony taste as well. You should know that the cumin will have a sharper and more intense flavor and taste. Of course, when you’re a chef, you ought to know these differences as that will make it easy to understand the ones to use at varying times.

Turmeric is one you will find in almost every dish because it will never mess with your flavors. It’s mild and will never over when your meals. The difference is that you can’t throw the cumin just anywhere, as that will throw the meal out of balance.

Here’s a good example; you can add a spoonful of turmeric powder to most drinks, and it will be great. But if you did the same with your cumin, then you can be sure it will be off.

So basically, the cumin is more intensely flavored than your regular turmeric.

Let talk about the cooking application


This one is much popular in Indian and Caribbean cuisine. Regardless you will also have it fixed in many other meals again. Here’s how they use it most of the time.

You will need to add a teaspoon of turmeric to your soups, casseroles, or even rice dishes. Notice, though, that it will deliver the perfect tint to the meal.


They also like to add it to milk and thus creating healthy golden milk. So it would help if you infused the turmeric into the hot water, thus making a healthy hot beverage.

Add it too to your smoothies, and you can add a teaspoon or two. You will have an intense burst of flavors as well. Also, you will have medicinal benefits.

You will have the stir-fries, and the curries are even better because of the enhanced flavor when you have the turmeric on.

If you want, you can also sprinkle it into the baked goods for even more flavors.


This one is more popular with Indian cuisine, the middle eastern, Mediterranean, Caribbean, North African, and South American meals. As you can see its widely spread across the different cuisines. Here’s where you can use it if you like.


When you’re making a curry, you should toast the seeds to attain the perfect flavors.

When making the chili, too, you should add it to the pot of chili, and of course, it will deliver the perfect aroma.

You can use it as part of the spice rub, and you will then have it in the meats. It will work great in your poultry but also the fish.

It would help if you sprinkled the jeera seeds into the rice to make your favorite jeera rice. This way, it will deliver the perfect texture and flavors as well.

If you like the falafel, use the cumin, thus making it even tastier.

The health benefits

For most of these spices, the central question is usually whether they will benefit you health-wise. But of course, the ones we have here are beneficial.

Turmeric is not new to health benefits, but so is cumin as excellent.

The curcumin in turmeric will aid in digestion; it has an antiviral property. Also, it makes it an anti-inflammatory, yet it will boost immunity, to mention a few.

Cumin; This one too has a pack of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Cumin is ideal to use under any circumstance and by anyone.  It will aid in digestion boost immunity too.

Can you substitute one for the other?

Although we have mentioned that they complement each other, they can’t take the place of either one or the other. They are distinct, and of course, there are places you can’t use cumin, but you can do turmeric. Just go with what the recipe calls for.

Cumin vs. coriander

Another one of the most common types of spices are this two, and of course, they complement each other well. I must say the two we have here are both used in most Indian meals. They will always bring unique flavors to make the dish even better.

Whenever you roast the seeds before you go on and grind them, you will have an even richer flavor. You will like that the spices are famous the world over and therefore you can quickly get them.

Again you can have them in whole seeds or even the ground ones.

The taste

Contrary to what you may think, the cumin and coriander will taste so different. Most of us enjoy them just because of their earthy flavor, and you know it will have a hint of heat to the recipe.

As a stand-on, coriander has a blend of lighter, brighter flavors, and thus it will be citrusy and floral. So you can be sure that when you dry them and start to grind them a little, it usually has a deeper edge and flavor. Expect just a little nutty edge to it.

Cumin stands out for its nutty and smoky flavors. Like the coriander, it has a citrusy flavor, but this one here is more intense. To some people, it’s sometimes a little bitter.

The appearance

Of course, the very first difference you will notice is the difference. The similarity then is that they are both seeds, but then they are different seeds.

Coriander seeds are round with a little bit of a sharper edge on one side. So, of course, they are larger than the cumin seeds. They are light brown, but you will notice it sometimes takes on the yellowish tint as well.

Cumin, we already said, is tiny and long but also thin. If you look at them, they look like brown rice grains.

Stand out flavor

They come from different trees, so as you would expect, it has different flavors too. Notice though that they have the earthiness of the flavors, but they also have a level of bitterness, as we had said.

So the difference is that the coriander has a sweetness level, but cumin is a little bit bitter. People like it, though, because it will bring just the perfect flavor to the food anyway. Notice that if you misuse it, though, then you will have it break your food flavors.

Can you substitute one for another?

Okay, this is not like the turmeric we have already talked about. Cumin makes the perfect substitute for your dried coriander. This warm and faintly spiced flavor of the cumin will work as a great substitute.

Well, the coriander is not going to make the perfect cumin flavor. So it will mostly depend on the dish you are cooking. You have to consider if you don’t need the sweetness or bitterness in your meal. Only substitute them if the flavor differences don’t matter.

The health benefits

Of course, we already broke down the health benefits of cumin, so is coriander as healthy as cumin. Coriander has a pack of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients, but cumin has many more nutrients. So as you can see, the cumin will be a winner when it comes to the flavors.

Do you use them together?

Whenever you are using the cumin, then you will most likely use the coriander too. Regardless you will have the coriander and cumin having different unique uses as well.

If you’re cooking the Indian dishes, notice that you will have the coriander and the cumin used together to make the curries. Regardless people use the cumin in tempering the dish while the coriander uses to make the masala too. The truth is that they are the key ingredient in most of the meals anyway.

In the west, they use the two spices distinctively. Cumin is what we like to use with the savory dish and the meats. On the other hand, the coriander makes the perfect blend in the sweets. However, I must say they are both unique, complex, and perfect combo in that you won’t have either of them outshining the other.

Turmeric vs. coriander

Here you also have one of the not most popular combos. But the difference here we have already mentioned in the previous paragraphs.

The appearance

Turmeric looks more like ginger, and the coriander features ball-like seeds. If its ground again, they will differ in color. Turmeric is yellow, while the coriander is brownish yellow, sometimes even greenish.

The flavors

Note that the turmeric is excellent when it comes to color, but it features a mild flavor. That’s why it will blend with most of the meals. Coriander thought will bring you the level of sweetness you need.

Health benefits

For ages again, we have had people using turmeric for health benefits. The coriander, too, has some health benefits but not as many as you do with the turmeric.

Turmeric vs. coriander vs. cumin

I know I don’t need to bring this spice here because we have already discussed the map differences.

Do they have the same flavor?

Although you will primarily use these three in the same dishes when you are talking of flavors, they have distinct flavors, as we already said. Cumin is more robust in flavor with an intense, distinct and perfect bitterness but also sweetness.

Turmeric is a milder flavor; this is why you can use it in different dishes, unlike the coriander and the cumin.

I remember coriander for its sweetness. It has an earthy tone to it, and you will like its tartness. This is why you will find them all in your curry as a blend. They bring their distinctness.


Turmeric is in the family of ginger. It’s a rhizome so that you can tell it quickly from the coriander and the cumin.

Coriander, on the other hand, has round seeds that also have sharper ends. You will notice that they have light brown colored seeds.

The cumin seeds take shape and the tiny size of the rice grain. They are often brown.

In the ground form, then you will have the distinct yellow powder for your turmeric. Coriander is lighter brown with a rich yellowish tone. Cumin then is just brown, and you can tell it apart.

Do you always use them in the same dishes?

I would say this will depend on where you are. If you’re in Asia and make some of the native curries, you may use all of them together. They will always make the perfect complement to the overall dish, and you will have it being nicely tasty.

In other instances, though, you may not use all of them. For example, when you are making different smoothies and drinks, you will rarely, if not use cumin. Nonetheless, you can use turmeric.

You will like the sweetness of the coriander, the bitter nuttiness of the cumin, and the earthiness of the turmeric when you blend them.

Is there anyone better than the other?

No, they all stand out for their role in the food. If you like it mild and yellow, then you can use turmeric. If you like it being rich with a level of bitterness, cumin is yours, but I like it for its nutty flavor too.

If you want it, a little sweet coriander will do. But one thing you should never miss is this blend of flavors in a richly flavored dish.

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