Just a quick little post on the importance of toasting spices….
If there is one thing you can change that will vastly improve your cookery, it is to use fresh herbs and spices. While most people are already on board in regards to fresh herbs, the importance of dried spices is often overlooked.
Always try to buy your spices whole, and in bulk if possible. Buying in bulk means that you can take a smaller (or larger) quantity of any given spice, as you are not restricted by the packaging size.
Toasting your spices prior to grinding them coaxes deeper flavors from them. Heat a dry pan to about medium or medium high, then add your whole spices, one at a time. While you toast, be sure to keep the pan moving so as to distribute the heat evenly and prevent burning. Have a mortar and pestle ready, and simply pour each spice into the mortar once it’s ready. You will be able to tell by the aroma when it’s perfect.
Use your pestle to gently grind the spices using scraping and pounding movements. Take your time- this is one of the pleasures of life and you will be able to smell the change as the spices begin to blend together.
It is best to create a new spice blend for each dish; however, you may want to make a larger batch and save it. Cover the leftover mix tightly and store in a cool, dark place and use within a week for peak flavor.