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Spices & Seasonings/powdered spices in chilis


I am making a chili using powdered spices such as cumin, cayenne, etc. When is it best to add them? during the sauteing in oil, or after all the stock and liquids are in the pot? I am planning to first saute some onions and celery, then add the spices. Thanks.

Hi David,

I sincerely apologize for the delayed response. This ended up in my spam folder and missed it. I'll answer this, although I assume I'm too late to help with your original pot of chili. Hopefully this will help for all future recipes! The most basic premise is to always add dried spices/herbs early in the cooking process and fresh herbs right towards the end. The absolute best way to handle any seed spices like cumin, coriander, mustard, even dried chili peppers, etc. is to toast it in a dry skillet just until fragrant, then grind it, then add it to your onions/celery just before adding liquid. The toasting releases the oils in the seed in the most aromatic way possible. Assuming you are using preground spices, your best bet is probably to do what you suggested! Sautee the celery/onions for just a minute, then add spices, continue to sautee for several minutes until the onions/celery are sweated (translucent) before adding your liquids. If you want to amp up the flavor a bit, you can use the same method of toasting the preground spices lightly in a dry skillet - but it really won't add much flavor. I don't recommend adding the spices to the oil before the onions/celery - it is likely to burn since it is often hard to predict the heat of the oil and the veggies aren't their to keep the temperature in check. For similar reasons, I also rarely add raw garlic on it's own. I usually add it with onions unless I'm really keeping the temp low.

I hope this helps. I'll be sure to respond to any follow-up questions immediately if you have them.

Kind Regards,


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