Seasoning & Tempering

By Published On: 16 Jul '20Last Updated: 16 Jul '20

Seasoning/tempering is a technique in which whole or ground spices are briefly roasted in hot oil or ghee in order to extract and release their essential oils thus making their flavour more aromatic. Seasoning is added to many dishes to increase the flavour of those dishes either at the beginning or as a finishing touch.

When seasoning, the oil or ghee is heated to a near smoking point and then the heat is reduced. The spices are added in succession with those requiring longer cooking added earlier and those requiring less cooking added later. The herbs such as curry leaves are added at the very end as they brown in a split second. There is no water added to seasoning. This seasoning is prepared in a small deep frying pan or a tiny specialty pan with a deep well which has a long handle and almost resembles a ladle. This pan is used only for seasoning curries and dhals.

For seasoning, heat two or three tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee in the pan till the oil sizzles, add the required whole spices. As the oil/ghee is hot the spices crackle or change their colour almost immediately. Add the herbs eg., curry leaves. Remove from heat at once. Add this sizzling hot seasoning to the dish along with the oil and all. Close the lid immediately and let it stand for 5 minutes. Closing the lid as soon as the seasoning is added captures all the flavours and aroma into this dish.

When seasoning please ensure that you use the right type of oil as the spices need to be cooked at a high temperature to extract and retain their essence, flavour and aroma. Olive oil is not recommended for seasoning as it burns at high temperature. I use coconut oil for seasoning my dishes as it is the perfect oil for high heat cooking like seasoning/tempering. Coconut oil also gives a mild coconut aroma without altering the flavour of the dish.

Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

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