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Roasting and Grinding Your Spices at Home

Updated October 20, 2017

Cookbook

Easy Indian Cooking

Published by Tuttle Publishing

Roasting and Grinding Your Spices at Home
Roasting and Grinding Your Spices at Home
This image courtesy of Jack Turkel

Editor's Note: Learn how to toast spices at home with this easy-to-follow guide. Once you taste the incredible flavor of spices that have been toasted and ground fresh, you will never go back to the jars of stale spices in your pantry.

Roasting (or toasting) is the key to enhancing the flavor of spices. It removes the raw smell that untreated spices tend to have and intensifies their flavors by heating up essential oils. All you need is a small, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron works great). No oil is used when roasting spices. Whole spices are put in a dry skillet and roasted over medium heat until the spices turn a shade or two darker and become aromatic. The spices are then immediately removed from the hot skillet to avoid over-roasting them. In my kitchen I generally buy the spices whole and then grind them myself as I need them. Because spices retain their flavor and aroma much longer in their whole state rather than when ground, grinding roasted spices in small batches is the ideal way to use them, and gives the greatest possible flavor to dishes. Traditionally, spice grinding was done with heavy grinding stones or a mortar and pestle. To save time, I grind spices using a spice grinder, though a coffee grinder works equally well.

Instructions

  1. You need is a small, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron works great).

  2. No oil is used when roasting spices. Whole spices are put in a dry skillet and roasted over medium heat until the spices turn a shade or two darker and become aromatic. The spices are then immediately removed from the hot skillet to avoid over-roasting them. 

  3. Traditionally, spice grinding was done with heavy grinding stones or a mortar and pestle. To save time, I grind spices using a spice grinder, though a coffee grinder works equally well.

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