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Old 04-30-2015, 05:07 PM   #1
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Question Ground Spices....best fried first?

I have just tried a dhall recipe - against my normal judgement. Usually I would not try a recipe where the spices are added to liquid rather than fried first but I had to use up some red lentils and the other ingredients looked promising so I succumbed. It was pretty bland!

It started with adding ground ginger, ground cumin and ground turmeric to water (not fried off first as you see in recipes for curry). When this boiled, the lentils were added. (Later adding diced potatoes, and fried onions and green peppers with some curry powder and some more ground ginger in the frying pan - then adding to the lentils along with chopped tomatoes).

A further bit of research yields that turmeric is best added to water since if it is added to oil it becomes "a mess". However, what of ground ginger and ground cumin?

So - your thoughts? Do you get the most from spices by frying them first rather than adding to liquid?



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Old 05-01-2015, 10:27 AM   #2
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Unless it came from an Indian cooking site, I wouldn't even try an Indian recipe that didn't fry/roast the spices first.
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Old 05-01-2015, 02:59 PM   #3
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Always either fry the whole spices or dry fry them and grind to a powder. I would not just powder raw cumin and then use it. That Dal method is fine (I have done it myself many times) as long as they are heated at some point beforehand.

Personally, I would use up red lentils by boiling them in hot water with some turmeric, black cardamom and asafoetida, then go about making a normal Indian dish in another saucepan (fry onions/ginger/garlic, add some tomatoes and fry until mashed, add the roasted and ground spices), then add the Dal and water to it to boil it together :)
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:02 PM   #4
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Many non-curry recipes call for spices to be added directly to a recipe without prior toasting. One method is not always better than another, just different.
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Many non-curry recipes call for spices to be added directly to a recipe without prior toasting. One method is not always better than another, just different.
Yes I realise it is different which is why I started this thread. Having succumbed to trying out ground spices in water (for this dhal recipe) and finding it bland, my suspicion is that frying off the ground spices would bring out MORE flavour...that is what I am asking here.
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Old 05-01-2015, 03:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Suthseaxa View Post
Always either fry the whole spices or dry fry them and grind to a powder. I would not just powder raw cumin and then use it. That Dal method is fine (I have done it myself many times) as long as they are heated at some point beforehand.

Personally, I would use up red lentils by boiling them in hot water with some turmeric, black cardamom and asafoetida, then go about making a normal Indian dish in another saucepan (fry onions/ginger/garlic, add some tomatoes and fry until mashed, add the roasted and ground spices), then add the Dal and water to it to boil it together :)
This sounds very similar to the recipe I tried (except that it was turmeric, ground cummin and ground ginger in the water that got heated before adding the red lentils). I found it bland. I did wash the red lentils first and kept removing the froth on the water as they cooked. I am now wondering whether that froth could have contained the spices. Hmmm
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Old 05-01-2015, 05:21 PM   #7
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Toasting does do some to intensify flavors. Grinding whole spices for each use also provides a better/stronger flavor.

Regarding the recipe you just tried, the flavor may have been bland because the spices weren't toasted first or for another reason. Perhaps the spice quantities were too small or the spices were old, or the recipe was not a good one.
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Old 05-01-2015, 06:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Toasting does do some to intensify flavors. Grinding whole spices for each use also provides a better/stronger flavor.

Regarding the recipe you just tried, the flavor may have been bland because the spices weren't toasted first or for another reason. Perhaps the spice quantities were too small or the spices were old, or the recipe was not a good one.
Yes, this is what I suspected, i.e. that toasting/frying off the spices intensifies flavour....I guess that still applies to already grounded spice? (I realise using whole spices are superior - was just following the recipe though).

I can't say I am familiar with eating dhal but I was expecting at least a mild curry flavour. It just tasted like cooked lentils with veg (even though the onion was fried with green pepper and some spice and added to the lentils with tomatoes). As you suggest, it could just be a poor recipe. I scouted around and picked the best one I could find...never mind.
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:34 PM   #9
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What kind of Dahl recipe was it?
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Old 05-02-2015, 04:01 AM   #10
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Do you have the recipe? I could give it a once-over for you and suggest areas for improvement.
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