Can you add spices to curry after cooking?

In this article, we answer the following question: Can you add spices to curry after cooking? We give you a few tips on how to add spices during cooking and how to fix a bland curry.

Can you add spices to curry after cooking?

You shouldn’t add spices to curry after cooking because it will make your dish bitter, gritty, and dull. If, on the other hand, you will add the spices at the beginning of cooking, you risk burning the spices. 

When to add the spices, then? Well, our recommendation is to add it with the onions and other vegetables while simmering it. If the spices start to clump or if you think they may burn, a few drops of water should ensure good and slow cooking!

The correct use of spices and condiments when cooking is a skill that should be considered basic, but it must be recognized that it is one of those that are formed based on experience and an understanding of the flavors and intensities that each one can contribute.

More than trying to use them properly, we must learn to season our dishes so that they have a spectacular flavor. It’s such a powerful art that it can make our dishes look good, but it can also ruin them if we don’t select them carefully or use the right amounts.

Curry is a mixture of powdered spices that varies according to the region. It usually includes coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chili peppers, and black pepper; for that variety, it offers a spicy flavor. It can be used to prepare beef, fish, lamb, veal, and potatoes.

How to add spices during cooking

The way you use spices when cooking differs somewhat from aromatic herbs. Spices usually need a little fat to develop their flavor and for it to fully spread in our dish. However, you have to be very careful, as they can burn easily if left at high temperatures too long.

Another way to use spices in our dishes is to cook them over low heat in a liquid, be it water, broth or sauce. It is also important that you be careful with the amount you add as an excess can cause the dish to be bitter. The same will happen if our spices are old or if they have been burned when added to the dish.

How do you fix bland curry?

To fix bland curry you have to adjust the balance of sweet, spicy, sour, and salty. The most crucial thing in curry, therefore, is the curry paste! In the ratio of this paste, all the flavors of curry come into play! The base is chili, added the various ingredients, most often shallots, galangal or ginger, lemongrass. 

We also add shrimp paste, a condiment made from dried shrimp that gives a salty flavor and a thicker, pasty curry consistency.

Traditionally, to make a curry paste, we use a mortar to crush the different ingredients: chili, garlic, shallot, ginger, lemongrass, herbs, shrimp paste… Sometimes these ingredients are roasted beforehand to multiply their aromas. But in the end, each curry paste has its specificity and its recipe. Besides, the recipes may vary between regions, seasons, accompaniments! 

If there is too much pepper, your dough will be inedible, too hot. If it lacks acidity, it will be bland. If it lacks sugar, it may be too astringent, etc … This is why for curry pastes, the amounts given are almost always indicative: they must be adjusted to balance the whole.

In curry pastes, each of these flavors has a role: the acidity awakens the taste buds and reveals the other preferences, the chili brings the spicy side, the salt serves as a flavor enhancer, and the sweetness sweetens it all.

The good news is that you can always buy curry paste if you do not want to bother with making it! 

Tips for using spices

First, feel! Taste is inseparable from the smell, by smelling you will get a very good idea of the kind of result you will get!

Then, for beginners, beware of chili peppers (and mixtures containing chili such as tandoori). We live in a country that does not have a great chili culture. In many countries, they have been eaten from a young age, so they are not a problem. If you are not used to it, take it gradually, as unlike most spices, they can spoil a dish.

To continue, precisely, take it slow. Are you lost in the quantities to put in your dish? Start with small amounts and add more until you find it bland.

Finally, are you a beginner? start with the spice blends (which you can make yourself), especially the so-called “yolks”.  These mixtures can be put everywhere! White meats, vegetables, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.

Once you have mastered them, move on to the others: Lebanese, guacamole, Dukkah, Cajun mixture …

Now, if there is one thing to remember about spices and their use, it’s: The secret with spices is daring! 


In this article, we answered the following question: Can you add spices to curry after cooking? We gave you a few tips on how to add spices during cooking and how to fix a bland curry.

We remind you that Western curry has many different varieties. However, the mixture’s main ingredient is usually turmeric, a spice responsible for its vivid yellow color. Cumin, coriander, or fenugreek, one of the oldest medicinal plants known to man, is also common. Cardamom, anise, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, or other spices can be added to fix bland curry!

Do you have a remark, a question, a tip? Please let us know!



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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