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Spices like black pepper have volatile compounds such as piperine which loses potency/is lost during cooking a curry so it’s best to add it at the end.

My question is about cumin, coriander and fennel. These are spices the seeds of which contain volatile oils. It makes me think that when freshly ground and cooked in a curry due to the volatility of the oils they will evaporate or lose their potency.

Is this the case and so can we say a curry typically will have no oil and one must add it fresh at the end if one is to add oil?

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    There's a certain amount of tenacity apparent in your constant stream of almost identical questions, but I'm not sure there's any learning happening at the end of it. Your addendum about adding oil makes absolutely no sense at all, the rest has been asked before in different ways over the past months. – Tetsujin Jan 1 at 11:17
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    I'm not sure ‘volatile’ is the best word here. The flavor components of these spices have BPs of 150-250 C - volatile enough for steam distillation, but pretty slow to evaporate out of a pot. Also ‘oil’ is descriptive of the texture of some of the pure liquids but it's confusing in a cooking context, where the word is generally applied to triglycerides, which piperine, cymene, cuminaldehyde, linalool, etc. are not. They're quite different from triglycerides and from each other, and have a wide range of chemical and physical properties. – RalphMudhouse Jan 1 at 20:23
  • Also, what style of curry? – RalphMudhouse Jan 1 at 20:23
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In cooking, one must understand how ingredients work, and also have in mind the desired final result. Just like many other ingredients, the form spices take (whole, cracked, ground), when they are added to a dish (beginning, middle, end...in stages), how they are treated before and during the addition (toasted, added to oil, sprinkled on at the end), all impacts the final dish. Yes, spices contain volatiles (as do other ingredients), but you will never loose all perception of them. Therefore the considerations are, do you want the spices to meld together and become the foundation of a dish? Then, add early to warm ghee or oil (which will become flavored and carry the taste and aroma). Do you want to be hit in the face with the aroma/flavor of a particular spice or herb when the plate of food is in front of you? Then add it right before serving. Often it's both, so ingredients are added at different times and in different forms. It's all about the impact you are looking for. Maybe think of ingredients like instruments in an orchestra. They can be drowned out by other things...they can be obnoxiously out of balance...or the conductor can help us make sense of the whole as a unified experience, bringing some to the foreground and keeping others in the background at just the right moments.

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