Dry-roasting is a technique to prepare spices prior to cooking, commonly used in Indian and Mexican cuisines. It uses gentle heat to bring out the aromatic and flavorful oils hidden in the spices for richer, nuttier, and fuller taste. It also expels excessive moisture and makes the seeds crisper and easier to grind. Try a raw and a roasted coriander seed and you will notice a remarkable difference.
Select good quality whole spices for dry roasting. Ground spices are quick to burn and generally not roasted. To dry-roast:
- Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. A heavy-bottomed pan, such as a cast iron skillet, is preferred.
- Add the whole spices and roast until very fragrant and lightly browned, stirring frequently to prevent burning, roughly 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the spices.
- Transfer spices to a bowl and let cool before grinding.
- Place the spices in an electric spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle, and grind to your desired consistency. Alternatively, you can simply place the spices on a small piece of aluminum foil, fold the foil, and use a rolling pin over the foil to crush the spices into powder.
It is best to roast and grind spices only as much as you need to as they lost their potency over time. Store unused spice mixture in an airtight container away from light and humidity.