Toasting and grinding spices

Toasting and grinding spices

Toasting spices

Click here to see on how to warm spices.

Indian recipes often require you to "toast" your spices, however I only really warm them. The only spices I do this with is whole Key spices such as cumin and coriander seeds.

I believe that spices should be lightly warmed rather than toasted until coloured or until they are very fragment because...

  1. Toasting them until coloured often gives the spices a bitter flavour.
  2. You cook away a lot of the flavour when you toast too long and too high. You just want to tease out a little of the spice's volatile oils to get them to release their flavour. This means that the main body of flavour will go into the curry rather than into the air and the pan.

The best way to warm them, without the risk of burning them is by...

  1. Heating up a small frying pan.
  2. Once hot, remove it from the heat completely.
  3. Add the spices and give them a little shake. You can leave them in the pan for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then tip them into the pestle and mortar ready for grinding.

Grinding spices

Click here for a video about grinding spices.

I aways buy whole spices and grind them myself with the exception of turmeric. There are a few reasons for this.

  • Pre-ground spices rapidly lose their depth of flavour.
  • You can’t tell the quality if you buy them ground. A whole spice can’t be adulterated whereas ground spices are sometimes bulked out.
  • When you buy whole spices and grind them yourself, you can control how finely you grind them. My father firmly believed that spices should not be too finely ground so that you can taste every spice individually. 

To learn more about spices click here for my Spice guide.