How to Cook with Spices, by Sanjay Aggarwal Co-Founder of Spice Kitchen
I run Spice Kitchen with my mum Shashi, and we are on a mission to champion and encourage creativity in the kitchen.
Mum has spent her life lovingly cooking with spices. People are always asking me what the secret is to cooking with spices, and I have to say that there isn't one secret. In fact, for me, there are five. And while I'm sure Mum would disagree with me, for the record, here are my Five Secrets that I want everyone to know about cooking with spices.
It's SO much easier than you think. There is a big mystery around cooking with spices, and it makes me sad that people are put off or scared to give it a go. So if there's one thing I want to teach people, just give it a try. Experiment and have fun. The traditional Indian Spice Tin we sell has THE essential spices you need to make almost every Indian curry, so just knowing that takes the pressure off having to shop for a massive list of ingredients. People often see the long list of spices for a recipe and get put off. But if you have chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cloves, garam masala, cassia and cardamom, you are seriously all set for greatness.
Take your time. Although cooking recipes with spices doesn't have to take all day, your dishes will benefit if you allow time for the flavours to develop, so it's worth simmering your cooking pot for that extra half hour. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Spices can transport you on a world tour without ever having to leave your kitchen. If you look at any great world cuisines, you'll find the secret to their incredible flavours starts and ends with spice.
Tempering or roasting your spices (especially your whole spices) is non-negotiable and will completely transform their flavour. Don't ever skip this step, and so if the recipe says to do it, then do it. You have been warned! By tempering, you’re flavouring your oil at the start of the cooking and the oil in turn is flavouring the dish. The oil has to be hot and you infuse it with mustard seeds or cumin seeds, crackle, don’t let it burn, go brown not burned, and then go in with the onions, prepare your onions, as this will stop them burning. Never smoking hot. Mustard seeds need to crackle and brown, then add your onions, ginger and garlic. Keep it high.
Spices can be used as condiments as well as in your cooking. Just as we add whole spices at the start of our cooking to ensure they deliver the most flavour, there are spices we only add at the end of our cooking. Garam Masala is a great spice to add at the end, and we always suggest going easy on the salt and chilli at the beginning of the cooking process as too much of these powerful flavours ruin your dish. Taste the dish regularly as you cook and if needed, add more salt and chilli at the end. So, use salt and chilli as seasoning, but keep these to the end. If you add too much of these at the start the dish goes inedible, so be sure to keep tasting to get the seasoning right.
mouth-watering to share?