Often a recipe calls for dry roasting either whole or ground spice. This easy step will transform your spices, making the most of their flavours and enhancing your final dish.
Dry roasting is done for a number of reasons. First, it dries off excess moisture and makes the seeds and spices crisper, so they grind more easily. Second, it changes the flavour. As spices are heated, they release aromatics. These aromatics can then break down and recombine to form dozens of new compounds, adding complexity.
This is best for large or irregular-shaped spices such as star anise, cinnamon quills and cloves.
This is best for smaller spices such as cumin, mustard or coriander seeds or for ground spice such as the Sri Lankan Curry Blend.
Keep an eye on the spices as quickly burn. If you do happen to burn the spices, you'll need to start again, as they will only make a dish bitter.
Different spices roast at different rates, so it's best to roast one at a time to ensure they're perfectly cooked. If you're going to grind the spices, allow them to cool slightly before doing so.