Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Tadka? Tempering?


nessa
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have seen the term Tadka used to discribe a mixture of onions and spices added at the end of a dish. I've also seen it called tempering. Is it the same?

So..... what is it, what is the significance, are there some ingredients always included? Is it just a way to add more flavor at the end?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Nessa,

The tarka technique is something very special and unique to the cooking of India(Pakistan and Bangladesh too). In different languages and places it is also known as baghaar, chownk, phoron, sambhara, and talche to name a few. It is sometimes refered to as tempering.

It is the act of frying whole spices and other ingredients like garlic, ginger etc. in hot oil or ghee. This changes the flavor of the spices themselves while simultaneously infusing the oil or ghee with the essence of the spices. This can be done at the beginning, middle or end of the cooking process. It is often used to start off vegetable preparations and is very common to finish off dals. Whole spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamon are often used at the beginning of making a meat curry.

There is no set list of ingredients. It can be done with any number of spice seeds and aromatics. Some common combinations are cumin seeds, dried red chili and asefetida or garlic; cumin seeds, onion and ginger; kalonji and green chilies; Bengali five spice and red chilies; cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and bay leaf; mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves.....it is never ending.....really.

You can vary the taste of your dishes dramatically just by rearranging the spices in the tarka.

When onions are added after the spice seeds and cooked until they carmelize you then have a combination of techniques tarka and bhunao. Bhuna is a sort of slow pan roasting-browning with oil or without. Thats what it takes to brown the onions.

If you check out the egullet university classes that Monica did in the past you will see many examples of this.

Edited by Edward (log)

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's an important and often crucial technique in Indian cooking but does have counterparts elsewhere. Madhur Jaffrey refers to the cooking of garlic and onions in oil in many Italian dishes as their version of a tarka, for example. The basic idea of a tarka is that it flavors the oil or ghee and thus, flavors the dish in a way that can't be duplicated by simply putting the spices (or whatever) in a pot of dal or stew or something else (Edward also quite rightly pointed out that "this changes the flavor of the spices themselves"). Similarly, so many Italian dishes wouldn't taste the same if you put the tomatoes in right away and added wine, rather than starting by frying some fragrant ingredients in olive oil.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also want to point out that how long or over what heat the spices are fried in makes a difference. For instance cumin slowly browned in oil tastes a little different from cumin that is thrown into very hot oil and rapidly browned. Some people like to fry cumin seeds until they darken a few shades and others may like them almost blackened. It is a matter aof taste.

Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also want to point out that how long or over what heat the spices are fried in makes a difference. For instance cumin slowly browned in oil tastes a little different from cumin that is thrown into very hot oil and rapidly browned. Some people like to fry cumin seeds until they darken a few shades and others may like them almost blackened. It is a matter aof taste.

Edward that is perfect. exactly what mom taught us. also we brown spices to different doneness for different dishes. And different families, regions, cultures within India treat tempre oil differently.

Did you buy Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Sarna? In chapter for rassam, there is explanation on tempring oil.

You know lot about Indian food. Impressive. Thanks for sharing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen the term Tadka used to discribe a mixture of onions and spices added at the end of a dish.  I've also seen it called tempering.  Is it the same?

So..... what is it, what is the significance,  are there some ingredients always included?  Is it just a way to add more flavor at the end? 

We add tarka at different times for different dish in our family.

SOme dish even get tarka twice.

And mom always adds tarka to one day old dal, it makes dal seem more flavorful.

Different region have different tarka.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh. So I've been doing tarkas the whole time and didn't know it.

Who knew? I thought it only refered to something added at the end.

Yes Monica, this is exactly what I wanted to know.

So tarka at the end for dals.... Methinks my chana is gonna get a lil spicier! :raz:

Thanks for clearing this up, guys!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh.  So I've been doing tarkas the whole time and didn't know it.

Who knew?  I thought it only refered to something added at the end.

Yes Monica, this is exactly what I wanted to know.

So tarka at the end for dals.... Methinks my chana is gonna get a lil spicier!  :raz:

Thanks for clearing this up, guys!

nessa, are you making chana (chickpeas) or chana dal? Not often that Indian people, especially northern Indian spice chickpeas with tarka. But live and learn. Chana dal would certainly get spiced if it were made as dal.

yes, like you, i was doing tarka all the time, not knowing I was doing them, till I was explained by mom and now Suvir and Monica that it can be done both times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

nessa, are you making chana (chickpeas) or chana dal?  Not often that Indian people, especially northern Indian spice chickpeas with tarka. But live and learn. Chana dal would certainly get spiced if it were made as dal.

yes, like you, i was doing tarka all the time, not knowing I was doing them, till I was explained by mom and now Suvir and Monica that it can be done both times.

I'm making chana dal, the yellow split cousin to chickpeas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:biggrin: I came in after signing out and having my deserved cup of tea just to add my bit here so I may be shedding alittle more light here on tadka don't want you to think it is my prerogative it is more of a science to me right now and also a source of flavourful delight and many memories :wub: .. there isa song in tamil in movie minsara kanavu and translated in to hindi into.. sapnay, this is a piece of the lyric saying vaguely that is nothing to match the smell of tadka for a hungry person..

Any way that is another thing.. I know that it is customary to either add tadka to beginning only in case of dry porial or sabji's, and and at the end of the preparation in case of koorai(in my language of telegu) or curry as is usually the case, but also in two cases at both times, in case rasam since I learnt from my MIL.. (well not really I just mix spice mixture into rasam before boiling it to foam and then use same powder to tadka mix it) that is how she makes it and it is divine. Anothercase of two time use is if only your partner is a fan of end tadka and insists on it, if I prep a chicken curry insia style then I add the curry spice to give the full curry body the taste of distict spice so I add to semi-heated oil that helps disperse the spice flavour, then in the end I also add the tadka that my partner always wants to since his mom makes it like that :rolleyes:

So I end up making both ways to his and my liking.. :raz:

:wub: I can't stop to describe it because it is so good really and so many ways to do it but at the same time I urge all of you there to experiment and do your findings and taste likings.

In the end :sad: I'd like to say the one :cool::laugh: thing that is to add in the beginning means to use in a porial or dry dish or stir fry which means that the spices at the end of the dish's prep will still be in pristin form of crispyness intact because you will use a moderate amount of water for cooking of the dish like a spinach porial..

But if you intend it to be soaky spiced form too as many don't mind the satate of spices.. it doesn't bother them so they may add water or do what ever they wish with it to cook it.. :laugh:

A cooked in a water or steamed manner dish would mean to add tadka at last so as the crispyness of spices and their aroma remains intact in the end product is late tadka methos..

:wacko::unsure: hope it wasn't fuzzy any blurring or marring of your interes in tadka oops sorry really

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen the term Tadka used to discribe a mixture of onions and spices added at the end of a dish.  I've also seen it called tempering.  Is it the same?

So..... what is it, what is the significance,  are there some ingredients always included?  Is it just a way to add more flavor at the end? 

Hi Nessa,

The tarka technique is something very special and unique to the cooking of India(Pakistan and Bangladesh too). In different languages and places it is also known as baghaar, chownk, phoron, sambhara, and talche to name a few. It is sometimes refered to as tempering.

It is the act of frying whole spices and other ingredients like garlic, ginger etc. in hot oil or ghee.

When onions are added after the spice seeds and cooked until they carmelize you then have a combination of techniques tarka and bhunao. Bhuna is a sort of slow pan roasting-browning with oil or without. Thats what it takes to brown the onions.

It's an important and often crucial technique in Indian cooking but does have counterparts elsewhere. Madhur Jaffrey refers to the cooking of garlic and onions in oil in many Italian dishes as their version of a tarka, for example. The basic idea of a tarka is that it flavors the oil or ghee and thus, flavors the dish in a way that can't be duplicated by simply putting the spices (or whatever) in a pot of dal or stew or something else (Edward also quite rightly pointed out that "this changes the flavor of the spices themselves"). Similarly, so many Italian dishes wouldn't taste the same if you put the tomatoes in right away and added wine, rather than starting by frying some fragrant ingredients in olive oil.

I've been through this thread many times that set me think of a minor dirrerence in opinion that classical cooking folks hold here opposing the state ments that all is tadka literally put..

But I differ here to state that tadka is merely spices like mustart jeera and clove cardamon .. these on addition to hot oil or ghee comprise a tadka and similarly if you add teragon or oregano too would really be a same one if it is dry.

On the other hand if you add the tadka with semi-dried like raisins and fresh ingredients of basil ( added later to tomatoes), or if you'd add garlic into oil before starting your dish preparation, you'd call it bhunao then which is also called browning to release a certain flavour to full body of that vegetable or fruit to the dish in that case..

So to call tadka in terms of dried spices would be right in the Indian context and the later addition into the heated oil other co-flavouring like agents like onions or garlic singly, not together, to infuse their flavour only would be called bhunao but not tadka really :wub:

I know things get fascinating here that there a really a build up of levels of flavours that makes its taste unique.. as Edward also has mentioned

Thank you Pan for adding another perspective that is also very true about other cultures cooking with tadka and bhunao though it is unique to them but then when has any one really been unique in the sense it is all borrowed God know's when where or how.. :smile:

I am suprised it has to be bengali style of cooking that is so very detailed and erudite that helps to know this art in a very scientific and practical perspectie all in one .. there.. :wub::wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      This almost had me in tears of nostalgia. My London home is a few minutes walk from here and I love the place. So glad to hear it seems to be being protected from developers, as I had heard it was under threat.   Wonderful food, too. Mostly vegetarian, which I'm decidedly not, but will happily eat from time to time.   London's most authentic Indian food?    
       
    • By ShylahSinger
      Hello! I'm fairly new to this site so I don't know if my search was weak. I'm trying to find a way to make Mandarin orange puree at home, but I couldn't find anything even similar in the forum. I am a home cook, but I have been making chocolate bonbons and other confections for over 4 years (intermitantly). It is too expensive for me to purchase this online- not because of the price of the puree, but the cost of shipping makes it prohibative. The recipes I've seen online are all differant and don't seem to be what I need. 
      I would love any help with this! I look forward to hearing and learning from those who have much, much more experience than me. Thanks!
    • By ShylahSinger
      Help! I am an amateur and make chocolate truffles, bonbons, and caramels for friends and family. I made some soft caramel for filling molded bonbons. The flavor and consistency are fine, but the caramel is filled with bubbles. I don't know how to get the air bubbles out, and am concerned using it in my molded chocolates. I would like to know if it is okay to use. I have been making confections for about four years and this is the first time this has happened. I would really appreciate any help! I'm new to the forum and don't know anyone yet.
    • By amyneill
      Hi all!! 
      I work at an amazing little New Zealand Style ice cream shop in the beautiful Denver Colorado. I was hoping to get a little help on the subject of adding fruit into ice cream after extracting it and ensuring that, when the ice cream is frozen, the fruity bits don't turn into rock hard shards. I am planning on doing a cherry chocolate ice cream and I was going to soak some dried cherries that we're no longer using for something else. I was planning on using some brandy and a ton of sugar, but I was really hoping someone had a tried and true method they could send my way so that I KNOW that the fruit will be luscious as it's frozen. If you have a certain sugar ratio. I know there is the brix test, but to be honest it's been many years since pastry school and I am very rusty. Would love to hear from some of my fellow sugar-heads. 
      Thank you!
      Amy
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...