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I need cumin for everything I make, but its not available where i recently moved. However anise is available, and someone told me that cumin can be substituted by anise. Is this true?

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Would help to know what location you are in. – Rincewind42 Aug 27 '11 at 15:02
@Rincewind42 small town in central italy – Midhat Aug 27 '11 at 16:50
I found an online supplier in Italy. Have a look at… – Rincewind42 Aug 28 '11 at 0:16
@Rincewind42 thanks. this is too expensive. I will order from amazon… . unfortunately doesnt have spices – Midhat Aug 28 '11 at 0:19
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'd say no. These are two very different tastes: anise is freshy with a distinctive aroma than resembles licorice whereas cumin is on the earthy side of the palette.

For substituting cumin I'd go with ground coriander seeds. You'll of course need to adjust quantities

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thanks. I have coriander seeds. I am thinking of crushing them rather than grinding, to get a little texture like in cumin. What quantity adjustment do you recommend. like how much crushed coriander seeds for a qtr tsp cumin. – Midhat Aug 27 '11 at 21:14
Haven't really tried it so it's hard to tell. I'd propably start with half the cumin quantity since coriander is quite potent and adjust from there. Substituting ingrentients takes some experimentation – charisis Aug 28 '11 at 9:27

There may be some applications for which aniseed is an acceptable alternative to cumin seeds, but in general, the flavor is not even remotely similar. Caraway seeds would be a better bet, even though they are not something I think someone expecting cumin would accept as sufficiently cumin-like.

When I lived in a small town in Germany, I found that cumin was occasionally available in supermarkets and natural food stores, but the best way to obtain it was to trek to a Middle eastern, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Ethiopian or Indian market. Oddly enough, it seemed that all sorts of unrelated "ethnic" ingredients made it to these places, perhaps because foreigners would come to these places hoping to find things that were not available for a reasonable price in normal supermarkets.

For things not available in our small town, I would occasionally make a trek to a larger city by train and buy things there. It turned out that shops in our town were actually doing that themselves on occasion. Now, I would expect that mail order would be a reasonable option, if you're sufficiently remote. It's not terribly expensive to ship an assortment of spices.

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Thanks. I know a shop in a city 75 km away sells spice. Just not want to shell out the fare to buy 1 euro worth of spice. Maybe Iwill go when I need more spices. – Midhat Aug 27 '11 at 21:12

If you want Cumin, get cumin, you can order it from Amazon and have it delivered right to your door.

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