As far as I'm aware any herb or spice CAN be eaten raw and hence added at the end of cooking.

We cooked a stew with garam masala as we wanted to try something bland. It wasnt very tasteful so I suggested adding the chill powder in hours after the garam masala stew had been cooked.

My friend told me it was too late and the curry would start to smell bad if we added it now.

This question is not about whether adding at the beginning or the end would add more flavour as I know certain herbs need to be cooked to extract flavour.

Rather why did she say the curry would smell and isn't this statement contrary to the idea that you can add any spice at the end of cooking?

  • The only way this makes sense is if your friend, or you, feels that your uncooked seasoning (or, at least, the dehydrated seasoning) itself tastes or smells bad. Its not impossible, some people find their enjoyment or tolerance of some foods is dependent on their level of cooking, but it would be pretty rare as most people who don't like the smell or taste of something also don't want to put it on their food.
    – Megha
    Sep 29, 2019 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


That's absurd, imho. You add spices generally to the earlier stages of a stew so they can meld in together, between themselves and with the main ingredients. That takes time usually, more time than just cooking even. It's why most stews are better the next day, when flavors have really had the opportunity to form a cohesive whole.

So if you add spices at the end, you run the risk of them not being totally well mixed. But there's no way your curry would start to smell bad! Especially from chili, which if anything would prevent any bad smell from its conservation powers. That's just superstition. And I hope you added some and demonstrated that :-). Or at least try it on your leftovers.


There is no way adding chilli powder late is going to make your dish smell 'bad', in any way, shape or form.

You can add chilli powder at any time. The longer it cooks, the deeper the flavours, but if all you want to do is pep it up a bit, you can add it right at the end.

Also, with garam masala, even if you add some right at the start so it cooks down nicely & adds depth, it's always good to add a little more near the end, so the aromatics come to life too.

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