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Tadka – the Indian Seasoning {Recipe tips}

My good friend, Cindy, on reading the lemon rice recipe, asked me what tadka was. So this post is dedicated to her. :)

You see, Indian cuisine, like her people and cultures, is very varied. You have Punjabi, Mughlai cuisine from the north; Gujrati, Maharashtrian cuisine from the west; South Indian cuisine from the south (obviously); Odiya and Bengali cuisine from the east. Each is different from the other significantly. Each is unique. Each also has some common recipes and preparation methods with the other too.

One such common yet unique thing about all of these is the “tadka”. Also called as bagar, phoron, fodni, chaunk, popu and many many more names, this is “the Indian seasoning” that is believed to add flavor, taste as well as digestive capabilities to dishes.


Typical recipe of tadka involves heating oil or ghee {clarified butter} and adding one or more spices to it. Once the spices get nicely cooked and start spreading their rich aroma, the main ingredients are added to this mixture and cooked. Sometimes the whole dish is cooked thoroughly and just before serving, tadka is added to it. {My grandmama did this to her gravy dishes and people were left licking their fingers!}

Although tadka makes for an insignificant amount of ingredients as compared to the amount of main ingredients, let that not fool you about its importance to the flavor. In fact, I dare say, getting your tadka right is the first step towards mastering Indian cooking.

Here are some tips to learn how to do it right.

Heat the oil or ghee till it is hot but not smoky. If it gets too hot, it will burn the spices and your dish will get a bad aroma.

When adding spices to the heated oil, add the ones that take longer to cook first and others later. For example, when I make the lemon rice and add different lentils to it, I add them first as they take a little longer to cook.

If you are adding asafetida and need to sauté onion in tadka, add the asafetida first. It will enhance the flavor of onions nicely.

By varying the spices you can entirely change the flavor of a dish. For example, when you are making potato stir fry {aloo ki subzi}, if you add fenugreek seeds {methi} + spilt black beans {dhuli urad daal} to tadka, it will taste very very different.

Here are some fab Indian food bloggers and how they use tadka in their dishes.

Devika’s Gujrati Kadhi


Deepa’s dal tadka


Jagruti’s Aloo Panch Phoron


For more details about panch-phoron from Kankana click here

Bisi Bile Bhath from Radhika


Hmmm.. All those dishes are making me hungry for my mom’s cooking. I wish we were together. Always. :)

Hhhmmmm… Millions of Diwali lights, the company of loved ones and delicacies on your table.

Those are my wishes for you on this Diwali.

Happy Diwali to All


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