Food - Drink
Use This Classic Indian Cooking Technique To Elevate Your Pasta Salad
By JOHN TOLLEY
A good pasta salad is delicious and filling, but this simplistic dish is also quite easy to mess up. If you too have been dealing with mushy pasta, too-little or too-much dressing, poorly-cut veggies, chunks of cheese, or cubed meat, then the classic Indian cooking technique, known as “tarka,” could help you out.
Tarka describes a technique for tempering or "blooming" spices in oil or fat. In a tarka, combinations of spices are warmed in ghee or oil over considerable heat for dormant flavor molecules to become volatile and robust, sugars in the spices to caramelize, and for the toasty browning of the Maillard reaction to occur.
The freedom of flavors offered by tarka means that you can tinker to your liking and use it however you want. Try a tarka of garlic, dill, and oregano, drizzled on a Caprese pasta salad, or a curry pasta salad with peas, mango chutney, a squeeze of lemon, and a tarka of coriander and mustard seeds.