You heard it right. Toasting. Now is the best time to introduce the process of toasting whole spices.
When working with whole spices, such as cinnamon, cumin seed, fennel seed, star anise, coriander, etc., toasting the spices releases their essential oils. This is in fact what you’re after when cooking with any whole spices.
Place the spices in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until the aroma is released. That’s it! Proceed with using this in your cooking. When using whole seed spices like cumin seed, coriander seed, mustard seed and fennel seed this same process is called ‘popping’ the spices. The seeds will begin to lightly smoke and will actually make a popping noise and ultimately brown slightly.
When you’re taking the time to cook, do it right and get the most out of your ingredients. Toasting or popping your spices will be well worth the five minutes it takes.