Indian Essentials: Why Spices are Roasted | How to Roast Spices

Roasting Spices

Roasting spices revitalises their fragrance and deepens their flavours. The time and method for roasting varies across cuisines in India and SE Asia. Spices can be roased individually, or several together are roasted. Sometimes the roasting is dry (ie not oil is used), and sometimes ghee is  added to further enhance the flavour. This is often the case for spices that release  their flavours in fats but not in water.  As spices take different times to roast, if roasting several together, first add to the pan the ones that take the longest time.

Spices will also taste different depending on the roasting time. A lightly roasted spice will add light flavours. A spice roasted longer will add darker, earthy flavours to a dish.

Spices are roasted by heating them very slowly in a heavy pan or wok, tossing regularly to prevent scorching which imparts an acrid finish. When the spices begin to crackle and pop, toast and colour, and a wonderful aroma arises, they are ready. Grind spices very finely, in a spice grinder, or in a mortar and pestle, using the pestle in a circular motion. You can sieve the result to get rid of any chaff and large pieces, if required.

It is best to roast and grind spices as needed. All dried spices should be kept in airtight, preferably dark containers, even refrigerated to extend their life. Make sure that the spices are used and replaced regularly.

Cardamom Tea

Feel free to browse our Indian Essentials series here. You might also like our Spice information here. Or have a look at Unravelling Indian Cooking. All of our Indian recipes are here.

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