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Dry Roasting Spices

Dry roasting or Toasting is one of the simplest ways to boost flavor and improve your Indian cooking. 

Heating a spice, whether roasting it dry or frying it in a bit of oil, further enhances its flavor, giving the spice a fuller character and a deeper, nuttier flavor.

Spices are comprised of two main oils. The first is a variety of volatile, or essential, oils, which give the spice its aroma. The other is a series of oleoresins, or non-volatile oils, which are responsible for the flavor. By dry roasting spices, both oils are released, thus enhancing the flavor and aroma of food.

A Coffee Grinder devoted to spices makes grinding a snap, though you can also grind spices, especially small quantities, in a mortar and pestle. An important note : To keep your coffee grinder lid from discoloring, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the grinder, then put the lid and use.

Whole spices have four times the shelf life of ground spices because their seed coatings and barks protect their flavors, which aren't released until they are ground or heated. Whole spices work best for dry roasting because ground spices can burn easily.

How to Dry roast?

Dry roasting the spices on the stove lets you keep an eye on them and enjoy their fragrance. Because spices burn easily, it's important to use a heavy-based pan over gentle medium heat.

  • Heat a wok or heavy frying-pan so its medium hot. Don't add any oil or butter, this is ‘dry-roasting’.

  • Add your spice or spices. Shake the pan or stir the spices with a wooden spoon as they heat. Remember to keep them moving.

  • They're ready when they become highly aromatic and turn slightly darker, which usually takes just a couple of minutes, but can take as long as five minutes, depending on the spice, the heat, and the pan.   

  • You don't want to see any smoke coming off the spices, but when they're getting close to done, you'll begin to hear a tiny popping sound.

  • Once toasted, immediately pour the spices out of the pan on to a plate to stop them from cooking further. Let the toasted spices cool, and then grind them.

They can be stored, tightly covered for a few weeks without losing much of their flavor. With fresh spices, you will notice a big difference in flavor, and you may discover that you don't need as much spice, making it worth the extra cost and trouble.

Dry Roasting More Than One Spice

You can toast more than one kind of spice at a time. Begin with those that will take longest and add any ground spices at the very end, just before taking the pan off the heat. Ground spices are ready in fewer than 10 seconds; whole spices take about 30 seconds. This is great when pre-preparing a combination of spices or "Masala". 


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