Cumin lends an earthy, slightly bitter flavor to Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American dishes. It is a component of chili seasoning powder, a blend of spices used in various dishes, and specifically chile con carne, or chili. Commercial chili seasoning powders vary in their ingredients and their proportions. You can substitute chili powder for cumin in a pinch.
Pure chili powders consist only of ground chile peppers, but commercial chili seasoning powders are usually blends of spices and are commonly added to chili. The compositions vary, both in the specific spices and proportions. Common ingredients include chile peppers, oregano, cumin and garlic. Salt is also often added. More unusual ingredients are coriander, oregano, cloves and allspice.
Replacing Cumin with Chili Powder
You can substitute chili seasoning for cumin, but read the ingredients of your chili seasoning powder and consider the effect on the dish you are preparing. Some chili seasonings contain no cumin at all. Do not use pure chili powder, as this contains no cumin. Consider especially the amount of sodium in the product you are using. Bear in mind that the chili component may add heat.
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Jim Dorsch has been a writer and editor since 1991. He has written for major newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "Chicago Tribune," and is publisher and editor of "American Brewer" magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in statistics from Purdue University.