The Spice Messenger


The 2nd Spice Blend and Tarka

Revealing our second spice blend made up of whole spices! Since you’ll be able to guess a lot of these spices, we’re dedicating this post to the Indian cooking technique known as “tarka”. Essentially, cooking spices in oil to bring out their flavor!

This is an easy skill to learn and when done right it really enhances your dish. You can make tarka when you start cooking a dish or at the end as a drizzle! So here’s how to make it perfect!

Get organized: If you’re used to turning the hob before you’ve measured or prepped any ingredients, you’ll need to switch your ways! Spices can burn very easily and some spices will need to sizzle for longer than others so having them to hand will really help!

Patience: Add oil and wait for it to get very hot! The spices should be changing in under a minute so make sure the oil is sizzling before you start.

Timing: Generally you’ll want to add the large whole spices first and work your way down to the smaller spices.

Shake it: Shake the pan to ensure the spices are cooking evenly

Watch closely: When they’re ready the spices will generally turn darker and/or puff up. Cumin and mustard seeds will start to pop (and make a bit of a mess!) This can all happen within seconds so keep your eyes on the pan as you don’t want them to start burning!

The aroma: The spices will release their wonderful flavors into the oil so when you can smell this in the kitchen, it’s another good sign they’re ready!

Be proactive: Make sure you are prepped for the next stage as leaving the spices alone in the pan will likely result in burnt spices. If you’re using it as a drizzle then make sure your actual dish is already prepared and if you’re using it at the start of a dish then make sure your next ingredients are prepped and ready to go!

Recipes and meal ideas to inspire you to get creative in the kitchen! We also share handy kitchen tips, interesting findings on all things spice and everything we've learnt so far about different world cuisines!