Almost every one of us turns to the experts while trying something new in the kitchen. The lockdown has made us all-pro in many of the restaurant menus and now we know how to ace with spices though. But sometimes we get stuck while using them. Reasons!! Can be many. Let’s talk about caraway seeds this time. You might don’t like the flavor of these seeds or they might not be available when you need them while cooking. In these cases, what can you use as a substitute for caraway seeds?
Caraway seed is an essential spice in European, African, and Middle east cooking, and among the important ingredients used to make sausages, sauerkraut, and rye bread. The flavor of caraway seeds delivers a deliciously unique taste to liquors and foods and makes them tempting. So before we jump into the discussion of substitutes for caraway seeds, let’s learn what are caraway seeds first.
What are Caraway Seeds?
Caraway seeds are about ¼ inch long with four longitudinal ridges and tapered ends. These seeds belong to the parsley family that actually is an herb. Caraway seeds offer a slightly bitter and nutty aroma with a taste like strong and sharp licorice.
The seeds also have many health benefits and mostly it is used to provide comfort in stomach pain. The secret behind the strong flavor of the caraway seeds is the presence of essential oils in them.
But what if you still don’t want to use it?
Substitutes for Caraway Seeds
With the strong aromatic punch of flavors, caraway seeds are the ideal spice for many chefs around the world. However, if you are unfamiliar with tasting foods with seeds or not habituated to prepare your meal with caraway seeds, then you probably don’t like their taste.
Don’t worry you are not alone; a lot of people stand with you on the line.
Along with your disliking, the availability of the product remains in question. Many times you don’t have it in your pantry, and sometimes you cannot find it at the nearby grocery stores even. The only way you become left with is to find a substitute for caraway seeds and look for the spice that can save your day instead.
You can substitute caraway seeds with the following list of spices:
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Fennel seeds
- Star Anise
- Dill seeds
- Nigella Seeds
How can these different Spices help in replacing Caraway Seeds?
Now you know the list of spices that you can use as a substitute for caraway seeds. Let’s find out how can you incorporate them into your recipes.
One of the most widely used replacements for caraway seeds is Fennel seeds. That’s because the flavor and aroma of both seeds are quite similar. Fennel seeds however are most robust in licorice notes.
Fennel seeds are commonly used in stew and curies in Italian, Indian, and in Middle Eastern cuisines. In order to use them instead of caraway seeds, you can add the exact same quantity of fennel seeds as you may have needed for caraway seeds. It’s quite possible that the final taste of your dish would be the same.
The quantity of licorice content in caraway and aniseed seeds is amazingly close. And for this reason, the similarity and nutritional facts of both the seeds are remarkable. Therefore, you must not think twice when using aniseed instead of caraway seeds next time when you opt to make bread, pickles, or cookies.
Before you use aniseed in your recipe keep in mind that the flavor of aniseeds is much stronger than that of caraway seeds, so to have the perfect taste of your recipe overall, add a half quantity of aniseed than the recipe demanded caraway.
Caraway and cumin seeds come from the same family and for this reason, they are similar in many qualities. So it is safe to use cumin seeds instead of caraway seeds in many ways. As mentioned, caraway seeds more likely taste bitter, while cumin seeds have a more buttery taste.
You can easily add cumin as a substitute for caraway seeds and have the same gorgeous taste as your recipe. To give your recipe the more hottest flavor, try adding dry-roasted cumin seeds.
Star Anise is a flavorful spice with extra notes of licorice. The only reason for which we put star anise in the list is the licorice content, otherwise, star anise has a much strong taste than the caraway seeds.
You have to remain careful while using star anise, as its strong flavor can easily overcome other aromatic flavors of the spices you have used in preparing pickles and jams. It is recommended to start with smaller quantities of star anise. Begin with half flower or a pinch and add more later if needed.
Black onions or nigella seeds are another flavorful spice that is widely added to Indian and European menus. Nigella seeds are quite close to the caraway seed by means of licorice content. They deliver a similar taste where it is used as a substitute for caraway seeds.
To achieve the best taste, you can fry or toast the nigella seeds prior to add in your recipe of stew, curry, or any other dish. Nigella seeds appear to be best when they are added at the top of Indian naan or added in Russian rye bread.
Dill and caraway seeds are come up with many similarities. To start with the licorice flavor, they both share the same parsley family so they deliver quite the same flavorful notes of licorice. Dill seeds are cream-based seeds so they taste best in soups and cabbage recipes.
They also enrich the flavors of bread, cakes, and biscuits. The flavor of dill seeds does not overpower other flavors of the dish, so they can be used for garnishing your cakes and biscuits as well. You can start off with the small dry-roasted quantity to see how you like it.
Coriander seeds – one more flavorful substitute for caraway seeds. Coriander seeds deliver a hint of earthy taste and match with the licorice notes of the caraway seeds up to an extent. They possess a beautiful aromatic flavor that allows you to use them in place of caraway seeds to have a similar taste and nutrients. Coriander seeds are mostly used in Indian cuisine, most likely in boiled potatoes, chickpea curries, and many other amazing dishes.
You have to keep in mind that most seeds that are close to the caraway seeds and can be used as a substitute for caraway seeds that’s because either they belong to the same family or the licorice notes are close. They are not the exact replacement for the caraway taste as they all have their own identity which offers different flavorful profiles eventually.
So in case if you want to please someone by cooking any traditional recipe that demands caraway seeds, replacing them with its substitute may not deliver desired results. When you become clueless and don’t know what to do when you don’t have caraway seeds in your pantry, then bite some available seeds to choose accordingly.
The Flavor of the Caraway Seeds
Now when you know that options are there where you can replace caraway seed with other spices and seeds (though they may not be the same at the end of the day). It is high time when you figure out caraway seed’s flavor profile and the reason why they are the most popular seeds used in various cuisines around the world.
Caraway seed is best known for its flavor that is more likely earthy. The presence of essential oils makes the flavor concentrated. Anethole, carvone, and limonene are the main factors that affect the aroma of caraway seeds. The seeds have a bitter but aromatic flavor that can make you feel its taste while you are mixing it with other aromatic flavors.
Sometimes you may feel a touch of mint and pepper with the flavor of caraway seeds, along with that you can taste a citrusy nuttiness hint as well with the flavor of mild licorice with a gentle anise touch.
Unlike cumin and fennel seeds, caraway seeds are much softer in their profile but look similar to them due to the same family history.
Types of Beverages and Foods that contain Caraway Seeds
As caraway seeds have a bitter and earthy flavor, it is extremely popular seeds that we commonly use. Commonly used spices that include peppercorns, red chili flakes, cinnamon, etc. are ranked higher may be because of their rich complex flavors and caraway ranks in them due to its rich bitter taste.
However, this smell and taste of caraway seeds are the reason behind its popularity among numerous tasty dishes and beverages globally. This becomes true especially in the countries of North Africa, Asia, and Europe where it is used extensively in cuisines to enrich them in probable ways.
In the next part of the article, we will discuss how spice infuses its flavors into other delectable foods and beverages.
Baked Goods and Deserts
Caraway seeds are widely added to bread, biscuits, and many baked items. Americans mostly use rye bread, Swedish and Norwegians make wholesome caraway bread. In Hungary and Serbia, caraway seeds are added in the making of salty scones, whereas in Aleppo they are used in Sweet cones named Keleacha. Irish use them to make Irish soda bread. Middle-Easterners have them in Meghli (a celebratory pudding), and Germans use them in making onion tarts.
Many countries add caraway seeds in their regular local liqueur. For example, Scandinavians use a distilled version of caraway seeds to make Akvavit – where Akvavit is their local liqueur. Icelanders use the spice in order to add flavor to grains and fermented potatoes to prepare the poplar schnapps, commonly known as Brennivin. A sweet liqueur of Holland, Kummel has caraway seeds as its important ingredient. Kummel is now commonly distilled in Russia.
In Germany, they used caraway seeds as a crucial flavoring agent for pork and for beef in Austria. Germans used caraways in cabbage dishes, fried/boiled potatoes, and sauerkraut. These seeds are added in goulash in Hungary and are used in stews, season curries, and soups, salads, and casseroles as well.
In any other countries caraway seeds are used to enhance the flavor of Harissa- a pepper spice pasta, and to flavor sausages too.
Cheesemakers love caraway seeds. A creamy textured Leyden – a semi-soft variety of Dutch cheese with mild taste has the flavor of caraway spice. These seeds also add flavor to the mature and soft Norwegian cheese, Pultost, Prussian cheese called Tilsit, and the semi-soft Havarti a Danish cheese. A Sweden and UD made Bondost cheese with mild taste also provide the taste of caraway seeds.
From liqueur to baked items and from rich cheese flavors to spicy curries – every dish can taste a litter better just by adding a rich flavor of caraway seeds. All you need to know the right amount of spices so as to create a dish that is overpowered by the intense bitterness of the spice.
Caraway seeds have proven health benefits. In old times, Greek women used to apply caraway seed oil to their skin. Caraway seed oil is packed with antioxidants that prevent your skin from damage. Moreover, people have relied on caraway seeds for centuries for their numerous health benefits.
Caraway seeds are rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. From these minerals, manganese, magnesium, and iron are extremely useful for women’s health.
Caraway seeds are loaded with fiber content as well. Fiber – which is known to help with digestive issues.
Other than these, caraway seeds help to prevent numerous health problems. Such as:
- Gastrointestinal cramps
- Weight issues
- Appetite problems
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Researches have recently proved these health benefits and trying to come out with more in nearer times. Whereas, studies that are in their early stages, advise that caraway seeds are beneficial in reducing inflammation, weight problems, and digestive issues.
Antioxidants of caraway seeds are endowed with anti-inflammatory properties. Although, inflammation is a natural process and becomes chronic if left untreated. As a result, problems like digestive issues, cramps, diarrhea, gas, bowel urgency, bloating, and many other health issues begin to attack your body. Studies have proved, how caraway seeds can work efficiently as a drug on these health problems.
Since every feature of the caraway seeds delivers benefits – caraway seeds help remove bad bacteria from your blood to help your metabolism to work fast. This eventually helps in reducing fat. Studies have proved that by consuming caraway oil daily, you can actually reduce your BMI. The use of these seeds boosts your appetite and improves the weight loss process. Also, it helps in decreasing the consumption of carbs and calories.
History proves that people have been consuming caraway seeds to get rid of abdominal issues such as bloating, cramps, stomachache, and gas. As stated in studies, that caraway oils soothe muscle tissues of the digestive tracts. Plus, the antimicrobial properties work efficiently to relax digestive muscles. Furthermore, it prevents bad bacterial growth in your gut and protects good bacteria from damaging to support immunity.
How to use Caraway Seed to enhance the Nutrients of Common Foods?
With so many nutritional benefits, caraway seeds are considered incredibly useful for women in numerous ways. They help in decreasing menstrual cramps, improves blood flow, and reduce menstrual complications. It is also recommended to nursing women to increase the milk flow.
The aroma and flavor of the caraway seeds are renowned to enrich the everyday menu. But unluckily, many people fail to find out the proper way to incorporate caraway seed in their daily recipes.
- Flavor – Usually, caraway seeds provide an extraordinary flavor that is most likely mild. The flavor gets intense when it is dry roasted or fried. If you add them at a later stage, it gives the recipe a mild flavor, or cook them whole and remove them before serving. Dry-roasted caraway seeds offer an incredible aroma in your dishes as well.
- Seasoning – The toasting process brings out the essential oils of the caraway seed that’s the main reason behind the strong flavor of toasted caraway seeds. Sprinkle these toasted seeds on your salads, coleslaw, bread, soups, and much more. You only have to add a small amount to have the fragrance of caraway seeds.
- Aroma enhancer – To have a mild aromatic flavor without getting bothered by the texture of the seeds you can use them through a spice bundle. Just take some seeds and tie them in a piece of muslin. Put the spice bundle in your recipe to enhance the fragrance of your soup or stock or to any liquid that you are cooking.
Caraway seeds can be used in multiple ways to add and enhance the flavors of some regular dishes. They taste best when they are adjusted with the other spices without giving away the epitome of the flavor. It’s upon you how you use spices to create your very own flavor and give your menu an incredible unique taste.