Good Question: Do I Leave Whole Spices in Curry?

Good Question: Do I Leave Whole Spices in Curry?

Faith Durand
Feb 23, 2009

Here's an interesting question from Erik, who is wondering what to do with the whole spices in his curry.

Your post on how to build a curry from scratch caught my eye. Curries are something I've really never made, but wanted to. The post discusses frying the whole spices in oil, so it seems to me like they'd be in the finished dish too. Wouldn't that be offputting... to take a bite and chomp down onto an entire star anise pod, or clove? Am I missing something?

Erik, yes, whole spices are left whole in most curries and Indian dishes. This is part of the experience of eating authentic curry: watching out for those crunchy cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks! Smaller spices like coriander, peppercorns, and cumin seeds just disappear into the dish, and they don't usually affect the taste or texture. In fact, we really like the taste of pan-fried cumin seed; they're a great addition to many dishes. But the larger spices like cardamom should be avoided and shunted to the side of the plate; it's not very fun to crunch into one of those.

That is our take on it, based on our own cooking and many wonderful restaurant meals. But others may have different opinions. Anyone?

Related: Recipe: Malaysian Beef Curry

(Image: Faith Durand)

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