Yield: 1 quart (1 liter)
Pungent and finely ground spices can be quickly infused in oil by heating the spices in the oil until the spices sizzle and then straining the mixture. Any of the spices used in Indian curry mixtures (see the book), as well as the mixtures themselves, can be infused into an inert-tasting oil, such as French huile d'arachide, grape seed oil, or good-quality safflower oil. If experimenting with an unknown spice or spice mixture, heat the spices in a small amount of oil so that if you accidentally overheat the spices you won't waste a large amount of oil.
1 cup (250 milliliters) ground spices such as
cardamom, cumin, star anise, cinnamon, cloves,
or spice mixtures such as garam masala
4-1/2 cups (1.1 liter) tasteless oil
such as grape seed, safflower, or canola
Combine the spices with 2 cups of the oil in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat, while stirring over medium heat until the spices begin to sizzle. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes until the spices smell aromatic. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Taste the oil to make sure it hasn't burned (in which case it has to be thrown out) and that it tastes strongly of the spices. If it isn't very spicy, repeat the heating and cooling until the oil is intensely flavored (remember, this oil/spice mixture will be diluted with the rest of the oil).
Combine with the remaining oil and strain first through a fine-mesh strainer (chinois) and again through a triple layer of cheesecloth or through a carefully washed and rinsed kitchen towel.
Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
By James Peterson
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998
Hardback, $ 44.95
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2001