The aroma of a sizzling tadka is enough to provoke hunger pangs and set the mood for a delicious meal. Tempering, as it is known in the western world, is a simple technique that transforms every dish, making it irresistible. Sometimes, tadka is the first step of the dish and many times, it is the very last step acting like a garnish.
Each region in India has its own tadka favourites. Many dishes use oil in the tempering, while some specifically call for ghee. Each spice and herb added in the tadka has a role to play in not only developing the flavour of the dish but also in adding health benefits to the food we eat.
While it is known by many names such as chhounk, tadka, baghaar, phodni, thaalippu, etc. throughout India, thebasic concept of tadka is the same throughout all Indian cuisines. In a tadka pan or a kadai, oil or ghee is heated. Bunch of spices such as rai (mustard seeds), hing (asafoetida), jeera (cumin seeds), etc. are added to this hot oil/ghee which unlocks the unique aroma. Whole spices unravel their tastes and health benefits in hot fat such as oil or ghee. This simple step is the key to a delicious, healthy dish.
Though tadka is a standard part of most Indian dish, it plays a larger role in our food, beyond just adding taste. The technique of tadka and its ingredients have many health benefits.
A choice of oil or ghee is a heated to a perfect temperature, whole spices are added to this. After they splutter, the tadka has to be taken off the flame before the spices get burnt. This process helps our body process the fat-soluble vitamins in the spices. When the spices come in contact with hot oil or ghee, they are broken down which makes it easier for the vitamins to get absorbed in the body. If spices are cooked for a longer amount of time, they may lose their health benefits.
Along with vitamins, commonly used spices and herbs in tadka have many health benefits. It is said that tempering oil or ghee with these whole spices can help in retaining the active ingredients available in powdered spices like curcumin in turmeric, piperine in pepper for boosting metabolism.
- Hing – Hing powder can help deal with digestion problems. It is also used to tackle respiratory issues such as bronchitis and asthma.
- Jeera - These iron dense seeds can provide almost 20% of your daily iron requirement in a single teaspoon. Cumin aids in digestion by increasing the activity of digestive proteins.
- Mustard seeds –These seeds are an excellent source of essential B-complex vitamins, vitamin-E and health benefiting minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, iron, selenium and zinc. They are also rich in phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.
- Red chillies - These contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, copper all of which play important role in our health.
- Turmeric -The key compound in turmeric, curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.It has positive effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease.
- Curry leaves -These leaves are a rich source of iron and folic acid. They are said to be carminative in nature and also help in maintaining the blood sugars.
- Coriander leaves -These leaves contain antioxidants that demonstrate immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects.
Next time you add a tadka, remember that you are adding a lot more than just taste and aroma to your dishes. Use pure, unadulterated spices in your tadkas to get the most amount of health benefits from them.
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