(Passable) cumin substitute?
Of course nothing tastes like cumin except cumin. Unfortunately, my best friend has a complete intolerance for cumin and gets horribly sick if she has something with cumin in it.
We both love curry and it's hard to find recipes without cumin. Simply leaving the cumin out is always an option (we do that now and it's still pretty good), but I'm looking for some other spice I could add in to sort of round out the flavors and maybe gain back some of what the flavor loses without the cumin.
i'd play around with a combination of coriander & caraway, and maybe a touch of pimenton de al vera for that hint of smokiness...and i almost want to say a pinch of dried oregano would lend a similar earthiness.
I would second the coriander. Fennel and kalonji (black onion) seeds would be appropriate and in a related family. In small doses, caraway could round out a spice mix with a cumin-y quality.
Do note that some of these seeds are related so it may be possible your friend has the same reaction to them.
Have you tried using kala jeera (aka black cumin, royal cumin)? It's a fairly close relative, but your friend might be able to tolerate it. Next to that, kalonji (nigella) might be your best option.