If You're Not Using Tadka For Salad Dressing, You're Missing Out

Chef drizzling oil over salad
Chef drizzling oil over salad - Miniseries/Getty Images

Whether you like yours teeming with dozens of greens and a fistful of proteins or a simple two-ingredient spread, there's no wrong way to eat a salad. There is, however, one common denominator that unites all great-tasting salads: dressing. Without an easy, well-made salad dressing, your favorite leafy lunch medley will fall flat in flavor and give you nothing more than dry, uninspired forkfuls. Although the possibilities for salad dressings are infinite, you're missing out by not including tadka in your regular rotation.

Made from a simple combination of oil or ghee infused with aromatic spices, Tadka is a key element in many Indian dishes. While it's not explicitly considered a condiment and is instead regarded as a cooking technique, introducing tadka to your salad dressing is an easy way to achieve a more flavorful and luscious meal. When the spices, herbs, and aromatics are tempered in hot oil or ghee, they infuse the fat with bold, eye-widening flavors, guaranteeing a salad that's anything but ordinary. Traditional spices used in tadka include cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel, and chili peppers, but your options are as vast as your spice cabinet. You can drizzle the no-frills mixture atop your favorite salad or introduce additional ingredients for a more robust dressing, making it as simple or complex as your tastebuds desire.

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Tadka Tips

Tadka in skillet
Tadka in skillet - Indian Food Images/Shutterstock

Because tadka is a cooking method, you're not likely to find it in stores, so you'll have to make it at home. Luckily, it's an easy process, and with a few tips and tricks in mind, you'll have tasty tadka salad dressing in no time.

The best fat to use when making tadka ultimately depends on your preference. Ghee, a butter that has been simmered to remove water content and milk solids, is a popular choice in India thanks to its toasty flavor profile. However, you can also use coconut oil for a sweet-tasting tadka, sesame oil for a nutty taste, or neutral-flavored oil like vegetable, grapeseed, or avocado oil. Bear in mind that ghee and coconut oil are solid at room temperature, so these fats are best suited for warm salads that can keep them nice and melty.

When tempering your favorite spices, consider the salad you're assembling. Traditional tadka spices will taste great with Indian and South Asian-inspired salads, but you don't need to stick to traditions if you're a culinary rebel. Branch out with garlic, garden-fresh herbs, and other aromatics and spices that best suit your day's salad. Whatever you do, avoid over-tempering the spices to prevent a salad dressing with a charred, burnt flavor.

Jazzing Up Tadka Dressing

Person pouring tadka over salad
Person pouring tadka over salad - Pinkyone/Shutterstock

Tempered spice-infused oil or ghee is a standalone powerhouse ingredient that can be drizzled over a salad without any additional fixings. However, incorporating other ingredients can add dimension and depth to tadka, culminating in a full-bodied salad dressing.

For something luxuriously tangy, introducing Greek yogurt to the mix will give you a creamy, satiating salad dressing; bonus points for adding freshly squeezed citrus juice from lemons, limes, or grapefruits to give it a hit of acidity. If you like your salad dressings with a touch of sweetness, honey or maple syrup will do the trick. Dijon mustard can bolster the fragrant tadka spices while adding an extra touch of texture courtesy of the mustard seeds. And, of course, you can never go wrong by blending in cheeses like feta or parmesan for a touch of savory richness.

Whether you're craving a simple cucumber salad or one stacked with as many greens and grains as you can imagine, just about any salad can benefit from a tadka salad dressing. Next time you're tired of Cesar dressing, fire up the stove and let tadka do the talking.

Read the original article on Daily Meal