Here’s how to experiment with spices on your own:
1. Choose a versatile spice. Cumin is a good spice to begin with as you experiment with spice combinations. It’s great with both coriander and mustard seed. The trio of cumin, coriander, and mustard seed works with any kind of meat, fish, or vegetable. Fennel seed is another friendly spice; you can add a little to almost anything.
2. Use a new spice (or spices) to season a familiar dish. It’s easier to like a new flavor if you already like most of the ingredients that go into a dish. If you toast spices, add them to the dish toward the end of cooking or sprinkle them on the food right before serving, because the toasting process has already released the spices’ aromatic oils. Soups, stews, and braises are great for experimenting with bloomed spices. Just add spices to your cooking oil at the start of a recipe, before you add your aromatics. Or pour in a tarka as a finishing touch.
3. Finally, be judicious. Some spices will ruin a dish if you use too much. It’s better for a dish to be underspiced than overspiced. If you find you like the flavor of a new spice, you can always use more next time.
Spice up plain rice
Add 6 whole cardamom pods per 2 cups raw rice at the start of cooking. Remove the pods before serving the rice. Try it with other spices.