What’s in your Tadka?





Tadka, Tempering, Chaunk, whatever you call it, is a quintessential part of any Indian cuisine. It doesn’t matter which part of India you come from; if Dal is a part of your diet, there is some tempering that you pour on top of a bubbling hot dal to make it the lip-smacking delicacy that we find so much comfort in. Some people also add this tempering on a bowl of Raita (Yogurt Dip) or a Koshambir (salad) for that extra oomph, and it never fails to do its job.

Call it a jhatpat (quick) chili oil, if you may, but this flavor bomb transforms any dish you pour it on. The distinctive smell of Tadka is etched in our memories and something we all recognize.


You can use any cooking fat, but for me, ghee is non-negotiable, heated in a small round wok that is kept handy just for this one job of making a tadka, in goes some garlic, cumin seeds, a bit of heeng (asafoetida), and red chili powder. As the aroma of the chili burning in the fat starts to invade my kitchen, I pour the concoction over whatever I have made it for, and a dull, plain dal looks stunning with the make-over.


Every home has their Tadka recipe, and there is no hard or fast rule about what to use because the key is adding more flavor, which can come from any spice that you like.

Here are some Tadka recipes that you can use for dals, raitas, or salads.


Tadka 1:


· 1 tbsp Ghee

· 2 cloves of Garlic finely sliced

· 1 tsp Cumin seeds

· ½ tsp Heeng. If using pure heeng, use a pinch

· 1 tsp red chilli powder


Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the Garlic and reduce the flame, allowing it to burn lightly.

Add the cumin seeds, heeng, and chilli powder. Pour over any dal or khichri.


Tadka 2:


· 1 tbsp Ghee

· ½ tsp Heeng. If using pure heeng just use a pinch


Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the heeng and pour over any dal or khichri.


Tadka 3 :


· 1 tbsp Ghee

· 2 cloves of Garlic finely sliced

· 1 tsp mustard seeds

· 6 – 7 curry leaves

· 1 tsp red chili powder


Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the Garlic and reduce the flame, allowing it to burn lightly.

Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chili powder. Pour over any dal or khichri.


Tadka 4 :


· 1 tbsp Ghee

· 1 tsp Mustard seeds

· 6 – 7 curry leaves

· 1 tsp red chili powder


Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the Garlic and reduce the flame, allowing it to burn lightly.

Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and chili powder. Pour over any dal or khichri.


Tadka 5 :


· 1 tbsp Oil

· 1 tsp Mustard seeds

· 6 – 7 Curry leaves

· ½ tsp Heeng. If using pure heeng, use a pinch


Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, and heeng.

Pour over a chilled raita OR Indian style salad



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