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I am living in a place where the food (namely curries) served is so bad I lose my appetite by just smelling it. I've tried making it taste better by adding some chilli powder, salt, and onions but it hasn't helped. I don't understand why it still tastes bad may be I am mixing in wrong quantity or wrong ingredients.

I asked my friend why is the food tastes bad, and he said that spices need to be cooked to release the flavours and the person making the dish is not cooking them properly so the raw spices are causing a bad taste.

So is cooking necessary for all spices to release flavour? How can I tell whether that's the problem, and how can I improve a dish with badly cooked spices without recooking?

closed as too broad by GdD, Catija, Erica, talon8, Debbie M. Mar 21 '17 at 15:24

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    What kind of food ? – Max Mar 20 '17 at 15:27
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    What do other people do with the same food? Ask them as they may have ideas to improve the taste. – Snow Mar 20 '17 at 15:36
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    Is it food other people are preparing ("where the food served is too bad") or food that you're preparing yourself ("maybe I am mixing in wrong quantity or wrong ingredients")? If you are preparing food yourself, are the meat/vegetables that you're used to available in the area you are now? (Is the quality of the raw produce the same?) If not, are you having to improvise with ingredients that you haven't used before? Are you following a recipe at all, or just making it up? What are the tastes that you like/dislike, bitter/spicy etc? — There's a lot more detail you'd need to add to the question. – anotherdave Mar 20 '17 at 15:38
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    OK. So what's wrong with the dish — undercooked? Burnt? Too bland/spicy? Long time between being prepared & eaten? & what scenario are you 'fixing' the dish in? At the office/at home? The fact that you've tried adding onions makes it sound like you can do more than, for example, simple reheating & seasoning. To be honest though, it sounds like a losing battle though if you can't improve the base quality of the dishes themselves – anotherdave Mar 20 '17 at 15:49
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    Welcome to the site @JeevansaiJinne, unfortunately your question is not something we can answer in its current form. You are asking how you can make food taste better which has too many answers. There are entire books about that. Also, we don't understand the question as there are many things that are not clear. – GdD Mar 20 '17 at 16:03
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If there are truly offensive aromas (eg burnt smell) in there that you cannot mask with other aromas, or if there are serious textural flaws (brutally adstringent mouthfeel, unpalatably hard pieces...) the dish is beyond help.

If there are aromas missing - add aromatic seasonings, herbs, spices (probably in oil).

If the dish is too diluted (tastes watery, does not stick well to grains or bread...), try reducing it (cooking it down) or thickening it.

If aromas seem to be present but subdued, try adding fat (eg butter or coconut oil) or acid (vinegar, lemon) or sugar.

If there is too much bitter/metallic/strawy taste, it could be missing salt. Or be oversalted, ironically.

If too salty: try diluting it.

If it is too sour, add sugar; if cloyingly sweet, add an acid.

If it somehow isn't fun to eat even if all the elements are there, try adding umami (MSG, nutritional yeast, soy sauce...).

  • OK, undecided whether to leave this answer on (which is well fit to the original wording, but confusing once the question was clarified...) – rackandboneman Mar 21 '17 at 8:31

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