Carom seeds are something that not a lot of people the world over know about, and I honestly think that’s such a shame! They’re so delicious, and I use them all the time when I’m cooking. If you’ve run out in your kitchen, don’t worry – I’ve been in that situation a hundred times. In this article, we’re going to run through some great substitute for carom seeds to keep you cooking no matter what.
What are carom seeds?
Carom seeds are a wonderful herb that’s eaten in a number of different cultures. They’re most commonly used in traditional Indian food and ayurvedic medicine from the same region of the world.
Both the seeds and the leaves of the ajwain plant are eaten by people and used to season food, though only the seeds are what we might know as carom.
6 best substitutes for carom seeds?
Here are the six best substitutes for carom seeds that I think you’ll love!
1. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds make great substitutes for carom seeds since their overall flavor and aroma are quite similar. Also, they can be used in much the same way – as with carom seeds, they can be toasted and used whole, or ground and used as a powder.
The flavor of caraway is strong and pungent, quite similar to anise in a strange way. It’s best used sparingly, since a little bit of it brings a lot of flavor to dishes. For this reason, caraway seeds can work well, since carom seeds are usually added to dishes in very small quantities, and combined with other spices.
Thyme is a great choice since it contains quite a few of the same chemical compounds as carom seeds. These include thymol and carvacrol, which are what make carom antibacterial.
Thyme tastes quite minty overall, as well as being just a little lemony. Its overall flavor is also quite green and earthy, meaning that it’s a jack of all trades. It’s common to see thyme cropping up in plenty of different cuisines – it’s a really popular herb!
3. Fennel Seeds
Another substitute for carom seeds is fennel seeds! Fennel seeds are quite sweet with an anise-like flavor. The flavor itself is really popular and is used in plenty of different dishes the world over. Personally, I really like it in rice dishes – it adds some interesting flavor that doesn’t overpower the main dish.
When substituting for carom seeds, use half the amount of fennel seeds compared to carom.
Marjoram is a herb that’s quite well known, but not as popular as a number of similar herbs, such as basil or oregano. It tastes an awful lot like carom seeds, though it’s a little sweeter – sweetness is a big part of the flavor profile of marjoram.
If you’re going to substitute marjoram for carom seeds, use a little less than you would with carom. Remember – you can always add spices, but you can’t take them out.
5. Mexican Oregano
Mexican oregano is used, unsurprisingly, all the time in Mexican cooking. The flavor is very strong and pungent, which is really similar to carom seeds! It’s commonly used in salsa and guacamole.
Because the flavor of Mexican oregano is so intense compared to the flavor of carom seeds, use half the amount of oregano that you would use of carom seeds. Also, consider other ingredients – Mexican oregano is quite floral and bright, which is fundamentally different from carob seeds. It might not be the best choice for the dish you’re making.
Carom seeds have notes of cumin in them, which means that using cumin can give you a rough approximation of the flavor you’re going for with carom seeds. Cumin is a good choice of carom isn’t the main flavor, instead being a background flavor for the dish.
Carom seed benefits
As with a number of different ayurvedic healing medications, there are various benefits to having carom seeds in your diet. A lot of ayurvedic remedies are based on a principle of trial and error, so the core ingredients often have some positive effects.
A particularly impressive quality that carom seeds possess is that they can be used to fight bacteria and fungi. This is most commonly done by crushing and boiling the seeds before using the resulting ‘tea’ as a liquid for cleaning.
Another quality that we love is the fact that carom has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a deeply complex science that has a lot of interesting ins and outs that make it intricate and tricky to understand, but there have been studies showing that, on the whole, carom seeds can reduce cholesterol levels in the human body.
Carom seeds flavor
Carom seeds have a very interesting flavor, with the most intense note of them all being bitterness. This intense, pungent bitterness means that they’re rarely used on their own, but rather combined with other herbs and spices to make a complex dish.
Their taste and aroma are probably best compared to a general mixture of thyme and cumin seeds. These two flavors are quite far apart, but the taste of carom really is very similar to both of them.
Are cumin and carom seeds the same?
No, cumin and carom seeds come from different plants. They do taste quite similar, though, with a lot of people saying that carom tastes quite a lot like cumin, though a bit more bitter.
Are carom seeds and thyme the same?
No, carom seeds and thyme are quite different. Because carom seeds are seeds, they’re technically a spice, while thyme comes from leaves, making it a herb.
Their flavor is quite similar – woodsy, floral, and pungent in large quantities. However, the two are definitely separate plants, meaning that they do have different flavors.
Wrapping it up!
Carom seeds are a great thing to have in the kitchen, but you can definitely consider using one of the substitute for carom seeds mentioned above. In my opinion, your best bet for a substitute is likely cumin seeds or thyme – since they’re pretty easy to find!