Solving Your Apprehensions About Using Indian Spices
It should be understood that there is no blueprint that clearly establishes what an Indian dish should 'ideally' taste like. The impression of an ideal, sought-after taste is often created by people trying to present themselves as connoisseurs of Indian food. Every Indian dish that is now known to the world has multiple versions, each strikingly different from each, within India itself wherein regional availability of various ingredients and cultural lineages play a huge role in affecting the eventual taste of a preparation.
Rather than sticking to norms established by cook-books, it is recommended that you try to improvise the use of various ingredients according to the sensitivity of your palate. There is little fun in trying to chase authenticity in the use of Indian spices since the traditional manner of Indian cooking is far-fetched from our contemporary lifestyles and cannot be replicated with the kind of kitchens we are accustomed to.
For example, the conventional way of cooking flavoured rice in the South-Indian manner is to let it simmer in a huge iron pot (or the 'handi') for endless hours, along with the spice-mix that is added in its semi-crushed, almost raw form. Needless to say, it is difficult to follow such culinary dictums. However, what you can do is create a flavour at par with the traditional manner of cooking, by ensuring that you have a ready supply of authentic, Indian spices.
Every time a spice is altered in its volume or a new combination of spices is used, your taste-buds should try to embrace the new flavour. The alternate cooking technique might compromise the overall exotic taste associated with such a preparation, but the presence of spices ensures that a similar gastronomic zest is delivered when you taste the labour of your effort.