Aired 6 years ago on KCRW 

Want To Make Your Indian Food Taste Amazing? Listen To This Expert's Advice

Bestselling cookbook author and travel writer Madhur Jaffrey shares the Indian cooking technique of tarka.

Share this burst

"The spice changes its character and becomes something else."

Don’t miss the good stuff
Subscribe and get a weekly digest of trending moments from the radio
Photo Credits : (GettyImages)
Dan Kitwood Francois Nel Carsten Koall Rob Kim David Silverman
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

One of the gestures in Indian food, which I find so gestural, is this sauteing of spices. And then adding it on top. -Yea. - You call is a tarka? - Yea. I call it a tarka, and it's not really a saute, because what you do, is you heat oil until it gets very hot. And than you throw in whole spices generally, like mustard seeds, like cumin seeds, like whole red chilies. You can do garlic, you can do onion also in that, some seasonings. But you change the nature of these things because the hot oil makes them pop, or curl up, or brown, suddenly, and it brings another element out of the spices. The spice changes its' character and becomes something else, and the oil gets perfumed with the spices. So now you take the oil and the spices and you have some lets say, beans, sitting there that have just been finished cooking and you pour the whole thing, the oil and the spices over the beans and you put the lid on. Everything is trapped, the fumes from the oil, the fumes from the chilly. The fumes from, let's say you put the black peppers on, whatever you've used on the tarka, this is one word for it, but I've used it throughout the book so people at least know one word for it. And, then when you eat that, you then eventually mix it in. But the fumes even get into it, and it's so delicious.