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Old 08-04-2010, 06:49 PM   #1
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How to cook with dry spices?

I have been a chef of 20 years cooking western/european cuisine in hotels and restaurants.

When making indian curries i always fry my dry spices in a little oil prior to adding to my wet ingrediants.At catering school we were told it releases the oils/flavour.Most of my colleagues work with spices this way too.

When i dine out at Indian restaurants i often ask them what they do and quite often they tell me they add the dry spices unfried towards the later stages of cooking.My friends of Indian / Pakistani backgrounds also tell me to just put the spices in unfried.

My question is , is there any benefit from pre frying your dry spices?
Are western chefs trained to pre fry spices in a way that may be considered flawed by eastern standards.Curries are a main staple of eastern cusine and surely they know better than us in the west.

Opinions please , thanks.

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Old 08-04-2010, 06:52 PM   #2
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If you grind whole spices for each dish, they will be potent and fresh and won;t need heating to release flavors.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:27 AM   #3
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I went to culinary school and we toasted whole spices in a dry skillet before grinding them as a way of bringing out more flavor. We did not cook ground spices in oil as a way of releasing flavor unless of course, a specific preparation required this.
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Old 10-03-2010, 08:54 AM   #4
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Certain dry spices do need toasting before use to release any unpleasant oils. Such as whole coriander seed. Lightly toast in a skilet under low to medium heat, moving the spices around, being watchful they do not burn. Once they go golden brown, tip them out. They can otherwise burn very quickly.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acc2020 View Post
My question is , is there any benefit from pre frying your dry spices?
Are western chefs trained to pre fry spices in a way that may be considered flawed by eastern standards.Curries are a main staple of eastern cusine and surely they know better than us in the west.

Opinions please , thanks.

In my family's brasserie we have always pre-fried our spices when cooking Indian food, but as Moon Flower said, coriander contains such pungent oils that it must first be roasted first, lest its oils completely spoil the recipe. Once roasted, these spices may be fried when making authentic Indian cuisine. For example, after onion, garlic and fresh ginger have been fried to a golden brown.

I have two excellent, tried and tested, well-loved curry powder recipes and one madras paste recipe, all three of which were handed to me by an Indian man and his wife. You are welcome to them if you PM me.

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Old 10-09-2010, 07:19 AM   #6
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Even when I make my own versions of paella, Spanish rice, etc, I like to toss the seasonings in a little olive oil before adding the liquid and other ingredients. But I'm not sure it makes that much difference to the overall flavor of the meal. What it does to is make a cloud of aroma that brings my husband from the other end of the house and gets the mouth salivating. One thing I learned most emphatically when I had a couple years of scent problems: Scent is a huge part of flavor. In a restaurant it probably makes no difference. But at home, it adds appetite to the table, and no cook likes a persnickety eater. The frying of the spices gets people to the table just dying to know what that wonderful aroma is!
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