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How and when to add spices for max flavour

Updated: Apr 24

Spices are so intrinsic to cooking, they can make or break your recipes. Even the simplest dishes can be made oh so flavourful by adding just a few spices. However, did you know that there’s a sequence and optimal time to add spices during cooking and each spice cooks at a different heat level to release its flavour the best?

When you want to get the max flavor out of every spice, adding them to your cooking at every step of the process is the best way to go. In Indian dishes, like curries we always begin by adding whole spices first think mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin. Garlic, ginger, and onion come next and finally, we sprinkle the dry, powdered spices at the end like haldi powder, garam masala and any other that you might want to add. This method of layering the spices delivers a rich and nuanced flavour every time. Salt is usually added towards the end as it makes the vegetables release water. However when marinating you use it first. It gives the salt enough time to penetrate the meat and season it in the center. The salt also breaks down some of the proteins that can make meat tough — and it actually helps the meat stay moist via reverse osmosis. You also want to be cooking your spices well post adding them to your meals so that they don’t taste raw and exude all their flavour implicitly.

To get even more flavor from each spice it’s best to dry roast them prior to cooking. Doesn’t roasted cumin make your hummus taste 10x better? Toasting whole spices before grinding them takes their flavor to a whole new level, adding complexity and aroma to a dish. Just place them into a pan over medium-low heat and toast until fragrant. As soon as you start to smell them, remove them from the pan to prevent them from burning. All spices have essential oils in them, and to release it, they have to be activated with heat. When you warm those spices by roasting them, that's when those essential oils get released and the aroma and flavor come alive.

Cooking your spices at a certain temperature not only makes them intensely flavourful but also more bioavailable. For example: turmeric contains a potent compound called curcumin, which is widely known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Umm, by the way did you know our Lakadong Turmeric has about 8.3% curcumin? Check it out here: Turmeric Powder

Back to business, now curcumin is absorbed best by your body with heat and fat as a carrier. In other words, adding turmeric to a healthy fat such as ghee during the cooking process is the best way to ensure optimal nutrition.

According to one study, clove and cinnamon were able to maintain their antioxidant properties when heated to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you can add these ingredients to the beginning or middle of the cooking process, as long as the temperature is at or below 365 degrees. In the same study, nutmeg actually showed an increase in its ability to fight free radical activity when it was heated to 365 degrees. Heat has also been shown to release certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in the cooking process.

So now that you have some deets on how to incorporate spices in your cooking for optimal flavour and lip-smacking dishes let’s get you cookin’ shall we? Shop your pantry essentials here: Shop Now

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