Chefs have trained for years to serve up exquisite culinary delights. What defines a dish is the aroma, color and texture. Spice blends play a significant role in giving a dish its signature appeal. For instance, Rajasthani dishes are
characterised by red color and spicy fragrance of coriander powder used in abundance. On the other hand, Laknawi or Awadhi cuisine tend to make use of milder but exotic aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon and cumin,
with kewra adding a signatur accent. Chefs working in five star hotels cater to discerning clients and spend a lot of time perfecting the art of proportioning spices into the best blend to achieve the finest balance of texture, aroma and taste. When a chef starts to offer the result of decades of such experience in the form of spice blends, then it is worth more than a second look.
Take a look at the burgeoning spice blend market in India. New brands mushroom all over the marketplace claiming some unique properties in their spice blends. However, one must keep in mind that these are commercial
operations driven by profit. One spice blend may comprise of a number of ingredients, some of them cheap and some expensive. Driven by profit motives, many spice manufacturers tend to use more of cheaper ingredients
like coriander powder and red chilli powder to bulk up the spices. The result is you get less flavor, you have to use more of the spice powder and your food does not have quite the flavor you intended it to have.
Ways you can use spice for the best effect
Indian cooking is a mix of inspirational methods derived from Persia, from the Moghuls, from South India and from the Arabs. You can use spice blends in different ways and the way you use it (along with quantity and mix of other ingredients) will define your dish.
One way is to saute onions and ginger and add spice blend powder during the process. The spices infuse into the oil and are roasted in the process. This confers a different aroma to the food you make, whether it is vegetarian
Another way is to add spice to the food while it is cooking. This has a milder
effect, letting the aroma infuse gently into the food being cooked.
Then there is another way to add just a dash of spice powder while cooking
and then, when you are done, you add another dash of spice powder before
serving. This may be the best way to bring out the aroma of the spice blend
in all its glory.
However, what you get depends on the spice formulation you use. As said
above, if you are using blends that have less of aromatic substances then
your dishes will lack in the defining aroma. Use formulations concocted by a
chef using the best ingredients and just a dash of the spice will transform a
mundane dish into an exotic one to delight your senses.