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Aug 27, 2012 11:19 AM

Cooking with whole spices

Hello all
I cooked a lovely dish of Chicken in Whole Aromatic Spices from "India Cookbook" for dinner last night and while we definitely enjoyed it my partner got a mouthful of whole green cardamom and it wasn't very pleasant.
I love cooking with spices, and I am familiar with the fact that whole spices are often roasted or fried in Indian cuisine, but situations like last night can be a bit frustrating. The recipe didn't stipulate that you shoudl remove the whole spices but I decided to do so since there were so many of them (12 whole green cardamom, 2 cloves, and 2 bay leaves). I was able to get them all out but couldn't find that twelfth cardamom pod. I decided to plate for the two of us and warned my partner there was a rogue cardamom pod.
I suppose my question is, do any of you have a lot of experience with Indian cooking, do you always remove your whole spices or do you just leave them in and try and eat around them.
I have considered putting them into a little cheesecloth bouquet garni style but I worry this wouldn prevent them from imparting their lovely flavour to my dish.
Any thoughts and thanks in advance all.

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  1. Most indians don't remove the spices. I think we all know in the back of our minds that there will be whole spices in a dish and to eat carefully, casually looking at each bite before eating it to make sure we don't get a clove or something. LOL :)

    1. Don't remove, just push to the side on your plate. Easier done if you are eating with your fingers, but just as easy with a spoon or fork. I have heard of people using a ball shaped tea strainer, though I don't know if they are able to fry the spices properly that way.

      2 Replies
      1. re: luckyfatima

        I fry my whole spices and then use the tea stringer thingy. Works very well.

        1. re: luckyfatima

          Luckyfatima, I think we Indians are just conditioned to look for whole spices when eating! I also don't understand the cheesecloth/strainer thing... I fry my whole spices and then add in my onions to fry, and the spices permeate the onions. Sometimes I puree the onions after frying instead of before -- I can't imagine try to fish out all my cardamom and cloves and peppercorns from hot fried onions!

        2. I never remove them, we just push to the side of the plate as others posted. We also serve family style so oftentimes we just avoid the larger ones like cinnamon sticks when serving ourselves. It's never been a big deal.

          1. Left in and eaten around. Just make sure people know.

            1. Chiming in with the others to say the spices are usually left in. I sympathize with your partner since, growing up on my father's Pakistani cookery, I also detested biting into cardamom or, far worse, a whole clove.