Infused Gingelly Oil with South Indian Spices
Yes, “bottled tadka”. Let’s get this one out of our way, shall we? When my mother saw me pull out a bottle from the kitchen shelf to do the final “thirapaatha” (in telugu) aka tadka, you should have seen her face while she muttered, “Can’t you spend that extra minute and make fresh tadka in open pan? Even this has to be OPOSed and stored ?” Yes, I understand, it is a bit of a cultural shock to witness tadka being pulled out of a bottle. But this isn’t something new in the culinary world. Infused oils have been practiced across the globe with various cultures infusing their favorite oil with their own traditional spice varieties. There are two type of infusions – cold and hot. The western countries like their spices oregano, dill, sage, garlic infused in cold olive oil. Whereas, Indian cuisines have traditionally infused hot sesame/ coconut / peanut/ mutsard oil / ghee with mustard, cumin, curry leaves, chilies, garlic, ginger,cardamom, cloves, star anise, bayleaves, fennel, fenugreek, cumin etc to create hot oil infusions – the Tadka.
Before I go on to make the OPOS version of tadka, here are some of the Pros and Cons of using bottled tadka v/s fresh tadka –
1. The point in which OPOS bottled tadka scores big for me is, it is “anti gunk”. When you fry anything in an open pan, tiny droplets of oil are sprayed into the air. They are the cause for oily grime on your chimneys. kitchen walls & windows. They even cling to your clothes, body and hair. We don’t notice it because it is faint, but it happens all the time. But my NRI friends will tend to agree with me here!
2. I want to get out of the kitchen ASAP especially during hot/peak summer season, which is literally round the year here in Chennai ! By spending 3 mins precisely making one batch which lasts me easily 10-15 days, I save 30-45 minutes of cumulative sweaty kitchen time !
3. I find bottled tadka more flavorful than the freshly made ones. The longer the spices steep in oil, the more flavourful the oil becomes.
1. You tend to make all in one tadka instead of having the flexibility to make a customized tadka for each dish. Musturd + fenugreek for sambar, Musturd + jeera for rasam etc., Having said this, I know of some patient OPOSers who atleast make 2-3 kinds of bottled tadka and store ! There you go !
2. Cultural Mindset ! “I like to hear the sound of tadka everyday ” , ” Tadka, is a finishing touch and it needs to be made fresh” …. For this one, I can only say, OPOS is all about questioning the status quo and unlearning stuff for the better. You have to try it atleast once to believe me.
Here is how I make my bottled tadka –