When asked to name their favorite thing about Indian cuisine, most diners will talk about the spices used to flavor the dishes. Deeply aromatic and intensely flavorful, spices are what define Indian food for many people. For cooks, both amateur and professional, the manner in which spices are treated before including them in a recipe can make a world of difference to the finished product. There are benefits to both dry roasting and frying spices, and many cooks have strong preferences for how they approach the subject.
Do You Want to Enhance or Transform?
The primary difference between frying and dry roasting spices is in the finished product. Frying spices in oil unleashes the essence of the spice, making it taste brighter and bolder. The oils held within the spice seem to be amplified by the process of frying. Dry roasting, on the other hand, leads to subtle changes in the chemical compounds of the spice. Each spice will react differently to dry roasting. Dry roasted spices are described as having a smoky, earthy quality.
The Benefits of Dry Roasting
Historically, cooks chose to dry roast their spices for practical reasons. When faced with monsoon season, it was easier to roast spices and then carefully store them in a dry location than to leave things up to the elements. Moisture leads to decay and attracts bugs, and can ruin a batch of spice in just a couple of days time. Today, cooks turn to dry roasting when they are looking to transform the flavor of a spice. Some spices, such as coriander, have completely different flavor profiles when raw versus after dry roasting. After that process, the spices can be ground individually, or ground and added to other spices to form a custom spice blend. Added to crushed dried chilies, a flavorful base for curries is created.
The Benefits of Frying
Cooks choose to fry spices when they want to create an intense flavor for a variety of Indian dishes. There are several methods for frying, but the most basic is to carefully fry whole spices in a small amount of oil, taking care not to allow the spices to burn. Another preparation calls for a slower cooking process and the inclusion of chopped onions to the oil after the spices have had a chance to begin cooking. A third method of frying spices is to cook whole spices in very hot oil for a short period of time. The intensely flavored oil is then used to finish a dish.
No matter how a spice is prepared, Indian cuisine is all about the incorporation of spices such as anise, coriander, cumin, fennel seeds and many others. For those in the Columbus, Ohio area who would like to enjoy an authentic and delicious Indian meal, the team at Curry Up Indian Grill can serve you up something phenomenal.