I made a jalfrezi today for tomorrow and I forgot to add spices, (cumin, tumeric, paprika). Is there a way I can add them now getting the most from them?


3 Answers 3


You will need to cook the spices before adding them, but you can add them in now and it will be fine. You can either dry-roast the spices in the pan or cook them in a little oil like making a tadka.

Probably if the cumin is whole, dry roast it until it starts to turn golden then add the turmeric and paprika and cook it for just a few seconds more. If everything is powder, I'd heat a bit of oil and add all the spices at once and cook for a few seconds.

If there is coriander, too, though, I feel that needs a bit more cooking.

The flavors will blend overnight in the fridge, and further when you heat it before serving, so as long as the spices are cooked, it is fine to just mix them in.

  • Why do you need to cook the spices though? To enhance the flavour? Make them palatable? Render them safe for consumption? Make the absorption of flavour in the final dish easier?
    – user25798
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:12
  • 1
    You cook the spices because they would have been cooked in the normal cooking process and their flavor changes in cooking. If you add then without cooking they will taste raw.
    – NadjaCS
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:14
  • 3
    @Lilienthal, one reason is that cooking spices in oil can help release their flavors and distribute them through the dish. For example, 3-5 sprinkles of cayenne pepper cooked briefly in oil is enough to spice up three good servings of bhindi masala. Those same three sprinkles would probably only be good for one serving uncooked, and would give it a harsher flavor.
    – dfeuer
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 16:36
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    I agree with using a tadka; try as much as possible to replicate the cooking conditions of the recipe for the spices - e.g. if the spices are added in several different batches, with the first batch cooked in oil, do that as much as you can. The spices alter in flavour depending on whether they are cooked in oil or water (different flavour compounds are extracted) and for how long. An essential part of most Indian recipes is "bhuna"; dry frying the spices in oil, and is crucial. Letting it sit overnight after blending will also help. It will never quite be the same, but it may be close. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 18:25

Use one of these small pans to add spices later on. You can use it directly over the flame. Pour some oil in it and bring it to heat, add cumins and other spices and cook it for some time. Then add the cooked spices in your jalfrezi.. :)


I'm wondering what you did cook. Spices are such an integral (and usually fundamental) part of Indian cooking that omitting them is going to leave you with a completely different dish.

So take out those spices and you're left with:

  • Meat
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Chilli
  • Garlic

So yes, you could fry up some spice in some more oil and mix that through your existing batch. There are food-safety issues here so if your meat-and-tomato dish is already cooled, I'd probably save this step for when I was reheating it for serving.

Don't add a hot oily spice mix to a cooled meat dish and then cool the whole lot again.

But will it be good? Again, with a Jalfrezi, you'd start by frying off the spices on the meat. I assume your meat wasn't pre-prepared (eg tikka'd) so adding the spice now is going to see very limited flavour penetration.

What you do have is a fairly solid base for a lot of Italian dishes. Stir in a bunch of fresh herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, etc) as you're reheating and it'll likely take on enough flavour for an Italian style dish.

  • Thanks for the info. There is no meat, and the sweet potato and chickpeas take some of the Italianness from it
    – Shane
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 15:14

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