Rasam has a dedicated “Spice chef” allocated to the daily preparation of spices.
Indian cooking doesn’t rely on expensive ingredients or elaborate techniques, but on the specialist art of combining spices and ingredients to create a delicate blend that gives each dish its unique taste.
The chefs at Rasam are experts in the field of blending and using spices for maximum effect. They also know when each one needs to be added during the cooking process in order to get the best flavours.
The chefs advise that if you are using spices in cooking at home, it’s best to buy them in small quantities, preferably from Asian grocers rather than supermarkets – the quality is much better and the spices are fresher. They recommend that you buy whole spices when you can as they have a longer shelf life, keeping for 3-4 months in a tightly lidded jar or when vacuum packed. They also freeze well in an airtight bag. Once ground they lose their flavour within weeks. Although most supermarkets stock Asian spices, you’ll get fresher, better quality ingredients from an Asian grocery store.
Many whole spices don’t have much of an aroma, but when dry roasted, they take on an appealing aromatic character – nutty-tasting cumin seeds, pungent chillies and lemony cardamom seeds are but a few notables in an Indian cook’s spice box.
At first glance the sheer number of spices can be daunting, but the good news is that for everyday cooking, a few key spices should set you up. Start with cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, and chilli powder or dried red chillies. Other useful spices include cinnamon, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg and mace, black peppercorns and saffron. To see some of the spices used daily in Rasam, visit http://www.rasam.ie/about-rasam-restaurant/rasam-spices/