Tarka or tempering is a very common method used in the preparation of a variety of Indian dishes be it dal (lentil dishes) or curries or even pulao (rice dishes) and raita(condiments). A burnt seasoning ruins the flavor of the dish and most often makes it inedible!
So what is the secret to getting your tarka on each and every time?
Follow these basic essential steps involved and master the fine art of seasoning (tarka).
Measure out the spices and herbs needed as per recipe of dish you are making. This is a very important step as you will need to have everything ready and in place before you proceed to do the tarka.
Heat the ghee or oil in a thick bottomed saucepan. Using a thick bottomed pan is essential as it ensures even heating and prevents the spices from burning quickly.
Add black mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the oil and sauté for a few mins until the mustard seeds splutter and the cumin seeds turn a dark brown. This “spluttering” liberates the prana or vital energy of the seeds. Next hing (compounded type) is added. This often helps to dispel gas caused by beans and some food combinations. Next seeds and herbs are added along with ginger, curry leaves, onions, tomatoes etc. Ground spices are added last as they have the tendency to burn.
After these steps you can add the vegetable, rice or lentil you are preparing and follow directions in the recipe.
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