How to Dry Roast Cumin & Coriander

Whole Coriander and Cumin Seeds - Dry Roast for Curry Pastes & Satay

Coriander SeedsIf you have never taken the time to dry-roast spices, you should try it, just for the wonderful smells that the spices will emit. Dried whole spices are often much more fragrant and flavorful then already ground spices, because the natural oils are retained better.

Kasma Loha-unchit, Thai cookbook author and cooking instructor, recommends dry-roasting each spice separately, as smaller spices take less time then larger ones. A small heavy pan (e.g. cast iron) works best for this task.

Kasma instructs that you should roast the spices a little longer once they first release their perfume into the air. Uniformly brown but not burnt, the spices will be roasted to the core and not just toasted on the surface. Be sure to stir or shake the pan frequently for even browning. Be careful not to burn them though or your dish will be bitter.

Also she notes that whole Thai coriander seeds (look pak chee) are smaller than Western varieties and have a sweeter, more fragrant flavor.

Cumin SeedsCumin seeds (mellet yira) are sometimes mistakenly called fennel or caraway on Thai packaging and as a result in some Thai recipes.

Freshly dried ground spices can be added to curry pastes, marinades and dipping sauces. Store tightly sealed in a cool place.

This information taken from "It Rains Fishes" with the kind permission of Kasma. Read more practical cooking tips, find detailed information about Thai ingredients, and get home-tested Thai recipes suitable for the American kitchen in her cookbooks: "Dancing Shrimp" and "It Rains Fishes" both available online at the usual sources. Get Thai recipes, cooking tips, and more at Kasma's web site:

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