Instead of your regular salad, make this: organic rainbow carrots tempered with fresh ginger and ground turmeric
When most people think of Indian food, particularly Indian vegetable dishes, images of curried veggies cooked in rich, spicy sauces are likely what come to mind. However, not all Indian dishes are swimming in sauce. In fact, there are many lighter vegetable dishes that are on the dry side, thanks to a quick sauté with tempered spices and dry roasted herbs. This is the way millions of families in India prepare vegetables everyday. The result is a dish of fragrant, delicately spiced vegetables that are smoky and crunchy. Rather than mushy, the vegetables are tender and firm. This is thanks to a classic Indian cooking technique called ‘tempering’ that is quite easy to learn:
In a recent Epicurious article, this method was described as:
The one technique at the heart of Indian cooking goes by many names. Depending on the region, Indians will refer to it as vagarne, oggarane, chaunk, tadka (or tarka), or baghaar. But no matter what you call it, the method of frying spices (and sometimes other aromatics) in hot oil and adding them to a dish is pretty much the same throughout India; only the types of oil and spices will vary.
This is my favorite part of the article: “all agree on the genius of tarka because, simply put, it works magic…the simple technique of tarka is the key to unlocking the flavor of spices and infusing it into your food.” As I said, the key is “tempering” and it is easy to learn. Whole spices and herbs are added in a very specific order that releases aromas and gives the dish different textures in one bite.
Typically served as a side dish, vegetables prepared this way are most often eaten with some kind of flatbread or steamed rice. It can make for a delicious alternative to your go-to salad. In fact, you can add these tempered vegetables to mixed salad greens or just eat them on their own. I will teach you exactly how to do it and I will give you two different methods for tempering:
1) Traditional oggarane: if you have ingredients from an Indian grocer
If you can make it to an Indian grocer, you can pick up these items to make traditional oggarne: channa daal (yellow split peas); urad daal (split black graham lentils); whole black mustard seeds; dry red chilli pepper; and asafetida.
2) Alternative version: if you’re using ingredients from your local supermarket
If you can’t make it to an Indian grocer for these specific herbs and spices, not to worry. There is an alternate version if you pick up the following items: whole yellow mustard seeds; yellow split peas; dried onion powder; and dried lemongrass.
This way, whether you have full access to the traditional spices and herbs from a specialty Indian grocer OR you only have access to what’s available at your local supermarket, you can prepare different vegetables anytime you like.
South Indian Style Organic Rainbow Carrots with Fresh Ginger Root and Ground Turmeric*
- 1-bunch organic rainbow carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (Alternative: 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds)
- 1 tablespoon channa daal (Alternative: 2 tablespoons yellow split peas)
- 1 tablespoon urad daal (Alternative: omit)
- 6-8 kari patha leaves (Alternative: 1 teaspoon dried lemongrass if you’re using it)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and crushed (see photo)
- 1-2 whole dried red chillis (or 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper, to taste)
- Pinch of asafetida (Alternative: 1/4 teaspoon dried onion powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
*Alternative version: use all the same ingredients except for suggested substitutions above in blue.
- In a large non-stick skillet add vegetable oil and mustard seeds. Put the flame on low-medium heat and cover the skillet with tightly-fitted lid. After 5 minutes you will begin to hear the mustard seeds popping and sputtering (this sounds like little bits of popcorn popping).
- As soon as the popping stops, remove the lid, move the skillet to the side and add the channa daal, urad daal, dried red chillies, kari patha leaves and asafetida, swirling them around with a wooden spoon (the leaves will shrivel almost immediately).
- Return to heat for 30 seconds and add carrots and salt. Mix well to combine.
- After adding the carrots, cook on low heat till the vegetables are cooked through.