Spices are absolutely essential to any Indian dish, and Indian food has a diverse range of spice profiles across dishes and regions. If you cook a lot of Indian cuisine, then you probably go through your spices somewhat quickly. There’s no way to really avoid this, and of course spices are meant to be used—there’s nothing wrong with having to restock often. But here’s how to help your spices go as far as they can.
Marinate the Protein
Whether you’re using tofu, fish, or chicken, marinating it beforehand will make a huge difference. You can use whole spices (combined with plain yogurt or some other liquid) if you have them on hand and leave your protein in the fridge for at least a few hours. This way it will soak up a ton of flavor on its own and you won’t need to worry too much about getting it flavored during cooking.
Toast Your Spices
One step which may seem trivial is toasting your spices before you add any liquid or water-emitting vegetables. You’ll usually do it after sautéing your onions and garlic-ginger paste. Simply sprinkle on your desired spices and mix up with the onions, allowing to toast for around 30 seconds before adding the next ingredient. This will help really bring out the flavors in the spices and make your kitchen smell great.
Add in the Marinade
In many cases, adding in a bit of the marinade to your curry or broth will add a ton of flavor as well. Just be sure to get it up to boiling to kill off any trace of the raw meat you marinated, if you used meat. If this is something you’d like to try, you may want to use powdered spices for your marinade rather than whole so that you don’t end up with whole spices in your finished dish.