How to Know When to Use Whole Spices vs Ground Spices
Home cooks take a great deal of pride in preparing and serving dishes that are both delicious and memorable. To that end, many recipes feature a range of spices. Indian food offers a multitude of options that are enhanced with the depth and flavor of spice. When cooking with spices, it can be hard to know when to go with a whole spice versus ground spices. The following tips are offered in the hopes of simplifying this concept for cooks of all levels.
Timing is Everything
One way to determine when to use whole spices and when to use ground versions involves the timing of the recipe. When a spice is called for early in the cooking process, using whole spices to infuse the cooking oil is a wise choice. This approach will allow the full flavor of the spice to penetrate the rest of the ingredients. Ground spices are better suited for the later stages of a recipe, to provide a boost of flavor just before a dish is completed.
The Benefits of Ground Spices
The primary advantage of ground spices over their whole varieties is simple: they are more convenient. Using ground spices allows the home cook to prepare a dish more quickly, which is a bonus on a weeknight or after a long day. Ground spices also lead to a smoother sauce in many cases, which is important for dishes that require a more velvety texture. Ground spices are also more readily available in many markets, although whole spices are easily found at specialty spice shops or region-specific grocers.
The Benefits of Whole Spices
Home cooks who prefer whole spices over ground are often focused on freshness. The natural oils and moisture present in whole spices are better preserved than in ground. This allows cooks to grind or crush a spice just before use, which many believe imparts a deeper and more complex flavor than ground spices deliver. Using whole spices is also important to cooks who feel strongly about lending an air of authenticity to their dishes.
Storage is Important
Regardless of whether you choose to use whole or ground spices, the manner in which your spices are stored is critical to creating a flavorful dish. Spices should be stored in an airtight container, preferably one that is anti-oxidizing. They should be kept away from sunlight, which can leach away flavor. Many home cooks swear by storing their spices in the refrigerator, especially spices that have been ground at home but are not immediately needed. It is also important to regularly check the expiration date on bottled spices, as they will lose their potency over time.
At Curry Up Indian Grill, we recognize the satisfaction that comes with preparing delicious Indian cuisine at home. However, for those times when you prefer to dine out, we are always here to provide fresh, innovative and delicious options. We look forward to serving you and your family on your next dining adventure!