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Which raises two points (at least):1. Non stick coatings give off extremely noxious gases when overheated. Therefore:2. For safety only heat large quantities of spice powders in a non-stick pan to ensure the "safe" temperature of the pan is not exceeded - as Syed demonstrated (and even then I'm a bit dubious).And I assume, having not tried it, that there is an actual reason for doing it in a non-stick pan. Presumably they burn or stick in an uncoated pan?
The sequence of cooking is a curious point Romain. I guess many are fearful of burning powdered spices in hot oil right at the start. If you've ever done it, or burnt your garlic, you'll know that you can't continue. It's bin and start again. This cooked curry powder may be another way of blooming the spices with reduced risk. I have no hesitation in blooming whole seeds and other larger spices but doing powder is always a concern for me. I have never been shown exactly how hot the oil can or should be, or for what time powdered spice can or should be cooked without risk of spoiling. I err to the side of caution and most likely at the expense of flavour and aroma.
Thank you for your kind words HugoBoss. Appreciate it I asked the question expecting this to be the answer. There seems to be two camps in the restaurant curry at home world. Those, like Phil and myself, that bloom their spices and those, like you, that don't. So I would venture the notion that what you are doing is emulating the blooming of the spices in a dry pan to some extent.If you have the time and inclination to try blooming your spices in oil before adding the diluted tomato puree, I would love to hear if you get the same or similar flavours you are experiencing with this dry roasting technique. I am close to the point that I would bet money that you will find the curry in which you bloom spices to be even better because the fat soluble compounds released by heating the spices wind up dissolved in the oil. Almost - because I haven't tried this dry roasting powdered spices myself.I know, when I have tried liquid then spices, it's almost as if I've forgotten to add salt. Everything is somewhat flat and lifeless. FWIW, my house and my local Indian restaurants smell exactly the same when I'm cooking curries and it's the point where I add powdered spices to the pan that it happens.
In fact, their ground coriander is uncontaminated (albeit pricy, unless you buy their catering-size jars). The confusion arises from the fact that in British English (don't know about American) "chilli powder" often refers to the blend of spices used to make a chilli con carne, which is why I always refer to the pure spice in its powder form as "ground chillies". Anyhow, your own fault for using Schwartz instead of TRS/East End/Rajah/Shan/Laziza/Mehran/whatever, or even Mrs Balbir Singh's !
My spice cupboard contains no Schwartz whatsoever