Want to really enhance your recipe? Why Roast Spices?


Image result for photos of coriander, cardamom, fennel

If you really want to add robust flavor to your cooking, whether it’s a quickie meal or a detailed fancier dish, you really should experience roasting your spices.  Yep that’s right… you can roast any dry spice to bring out an amazing flavor even, with care, cut & sifted leaves like oregano and basil can be roasted.  Ground spices roast well, but I will go on to explain how you can roast whole spices & grind them after, once you’ve tried I’ll bet you will be left wondering why oh why had I never tried this before!.

The roasting uses a gentle heat to release a spices hidden aromatic & flavorful oils that bring out the full flavor.  Typically roasting makes the spices flavor earthier, richer, and slightly nutty tasting.  In some cases like with cinnamon & ginger, the spice will become sweeter & more mellow.

Some spices that roast really well are cumin, pepper, coriander, cardamon, mustard seed, cloves & my absolute favorite “fennel”.    Roasting sesame seeds gives them a deeper nuttier flavor that many master chefs love to incorporate into their prized dishes.

So, I’ll run thru HOW to roast them then I’m going to toss a couple of recipes you can try.



Use a small heavy pan I use my cast iron or a wok.  Some like to start with a cold pany others prefer to preheat the pan, I preheat mine. Place the spices in the dry pan and shake or stir them with a wooden sppon while they roast.  You want to heat the spices slowly, so they warm clear thru to the center of the spice without burning the outside so use low to med. low heat.


the length of time to roast is dependent on the spice (how big and or hard the spice is, how much heat you use and of course the pan you are using.  Be careful not to burn the spices or they will taste bitter.  They should NOT smoke at any time during the roasting process

You will know the spices are ready when they smell rich and get slightly darker in color.  They will be super aromatic as soon as they hit the pan, but wait just a tad longer and that aroma will fill the air as the spices brown.  The goal is to roast them all the way thru, not just on the surface, but again without burning.  That usually takes just minutes, you may hear a little popping sound as the “whole” spices are roasting.


Whole spices are typically preferred over ground for roasting, that because whole spices better retain their natural oils & so contain more flavor to release when they are heated or ground.  You can roast ground spices too, just keep in mind that it will take only seconds before they are done.

Some cooks like to roast different spices separately, because they take different amounts of time to roast.  Since you are relying on the aroma to let you know how the roasting is coming along you will do that best with separate batches.  Others like to toast various spices at once, like a blend of spices you are using for a particular recipe.  If blending, you want to start with the spice that needs the longest cooking time first then add the others in order of how fast they roast.  That may take some experience by doing till you get super comfortable trying and knowing this, as I say experience is the best teacher.  If you are adding ground spices to whole spices add those just before your are done.

Cooling & grinding:

Once your spices are roasted move them from the pan to a bowl or plate to cool if you leave them in the pan they will keep cooking.  To grind the cooled spices you can use a mortar & pestle or a spice grinder, coffee grinder  roasted spices are much easier to grind than un-roasted ones.

You get the best flavor when the spices are used immediately but you can store most in a covered jar for a few weeks without too much deterioration.

NOW, here are a couple of fun recipes you can try this with, give me some feedback after you’ve tried them and let me know how you liked them, or roast your spices on your own favorite recipes and see how it totally enhances that same recipe.



1 TB grapeseed oil

2 TB sesame seeds

1 tsp whole cardamom seeds you can substitute ground 1/4 tsp.

1 large onion coarsely chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 cup cooked & cooled brown rice

1/4 cup roasted cashews ( I always buy my nuts raw and roast them fresh myself using the same roasting method as the spices)


heat oil in pan, add sesamed seeds and cardmon seeds (already previously roasted) and cook over med heat, stirring about 3 mins. add onion and garlic cook stirring occasionally til tender and lightly browned bout 5 mins.

Add brown rice and cook til warmed thru out sprinkle with cashews and serve  This makes a nice side dish and this recipe will serve about 2 people.


While this is not your typical chili, this take on chile verde contains a fabulous dose of cumin & coriander making vegan green tomatillo chili a viable choice even you hard core meat eaters.


1 TB grape seed oil

1 large white onion diced

1 poblano pepper roasted seeded & chopped.

1 green banana pepper seeded & diced

1 jalapeno pepper seeded & diced

1 green bell pepper diced

2 cloves garlic diced

1 TB cumin

1 TB ground coriander seed

1 TB chili powder

4 Tomatillos diced

8 large fresh green tomatoes, peeled, cored & diced appx. 6 cups

1 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans drained and rinsed

1 12 oz. bottle dark Mexican lager (yes beer)

2 TB vegetable broth powder plus 1 cup water

sea salt to your taste.

Heat oil in pan over med high heat, saute onions and peppers till translucent bout 5 mins.

Add garlic cumin coriander and chili powder (I roast these spices together first) and saute for 2 mins. more or until super fragrant.

Add tomatillos, green tomatoes, 1 can garbanzo beans beer & veg broth powder and reduce heat to a med. heat to a med. low. and cook until a thick stew forms. bout 20 mins. stir frequently.

Pour stew into a blender and puree, return to sauce pan.

Add second can of garbanzo beans and cook over low heat for 5 mins more just till beans are warmed thru.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream with  Brown rice chips or dip tortillas as an appetizer.

If you like some heat in your foods you will LOVE this recipe.

Healthfully yours,

Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.

Harvested Health LLC



Published by harvestedhealth

I am a Doctor of Naturopathy, BCHHP; passionate about helping others improve the quality of their health by empowering them with knowledge of how to incorporate a more natural/holistic approach towards better quality of health.

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