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I've been advised by a friend of mine that I have to add salt to my curries if I want the spices to come out and not leave me with a bland curry.

Now after being a doubter, as I never add salt to my food (for flavour reasons), I tried once or twice with various curries and after getting the amount right, it worked! I can kind of imagine the salt ions binding with some chemicals in the spice to aid it's solubility, but I'm not sure.

Why is adding salt so important for curries? I've read this but it doesn't seem to say anything about spices.

To clarify:

  • When I have added salt to my food as I cook that didn't have spices in (but did say have garlic, herbs, meat juices etc.), I haven't tasted a difference.
  • When I have made spiced meals (Curries, Tagines etc) with pre prepared spices and I've added salt I have noticed a marked difference.
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It's not specific to curries. – Jefromi Sep 8 '12 at 14:14
@Jefromi ...ok then 'My Spiced Dishes'. – Pureferret Sep 8 '12 at 14:15
Theoretically this is a duplicate of… (salt enhances basically all flavor) but the answers there don't explain a lot. – Jefromi Sep 8 '12 at 14:59
That deals with a comparison of salt and a herb. This is about the combination of salt and spices. Not a duplicate, I don't think. – Pureferret Sep 8 '12 at 15:02
To be clear I'm not voting to close, but they are essentially asking for the same thing. You're asking "why do I put salt in dishes", which assuming you know it enhances flavors, is the same as asking why it does that. The other question did use an herb as a reference, but note that it says "salt changes the flavor of tomato, potato, and pasta in completely different ways" - so essentially it is asking why it enhances all flavors. (Relatedly, why don't you add it to anything, even in small quantities?) – Jefromi Sep 8 '12 at 15:04
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your experience with the curry is normal. Salt helps bring out and enhance existing flavors. This is true for everyone, as far as I know. Different people have different sensitivities, and want different amounts, but the effect is the same. Given that you thought the curry tasted better with it, I wouldn't be surprised if you should also be adding salt to other things - maybe just not as much as recipes typically call for.

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