In the days of my youth (read when I was 14) I used to be a major Tadka enthusiast, and would often make it at home. Unfortunately enough I could “never” get it the way you make it in the restaurants… and I can say safely, that no two dhabas are the same way about this particular thing… even putting in the Egg is different for different dhabas. Some Dhabas fry the egg first and then add the tadka to it when the egg is scrambled, some fry off some onion and tomatoes and then add it, and other places… they all do their “Thyang”, you know, bring out the “secret” spice which they then proceed to sprinkle off right in front of your greedy eyes… and then finish it off with ghee.. not the darker “jhorna” ghee, but the Desi Ghee which is beautifully light golden colored…. and preferably handmade (Sigh!!)….
However, I have a few problems with HOME MADE Tadka.
1. Kasuri Methi is not the be-all and end-all as most people have advised me. I personally find a package of “Everest” Kasuri Methi too much for my liking (why cant they have little packs, hmmm??) and they inevitably turn into the kind of places where cockroaches lay eggs (in my kitchen area, I keep everything tightly secured under lids. In my mother’s section its another story)… so generally I skip it. Of course, if I have it lying about in my kitchen I use it along with the coriander.
2. I like raw onions served with tadka personally, but I can understand the people who doesn’t like it. So I generally serve my Tadka with raw onions chopped on the side.
3. I cannot for my life understand the concept of the different kinds of dal (lentils) in this. Personally I have issues with texture and mixing too many different things together resulting in some pulses getting super mushy and some nearly raw. And I don’t like the concept of mashing things into submission. Look, if it does not want to be mashed, it means it has still got fight left in it. Why irritate it and ruin the beautiful texture?
4. In that case, how to get the creaminess? How to get that unbearably soft and mellow taste without ruining it?
So, armed with so many problems, I proceeded to get myself a pack of the aforementioned beautiful dal when suddenly a thought struck my mind, and it was a classic case of /facepalm/ for me at that point of time (yes, I have my Manoj Kumar Moments too).
It was so simple. It was staring at me in my face all the time and I WAS SO STUPID. I ran back home and decided I would make Tadka tonight. I am enthusiastic that way.
So, here’s what I did.
First, I took about 200 gm. of dried whole mung (the green, unpeeled kind) beans and I soaked that overnight in a lot of water. A lot means — if you have a bowl and you see the beans make one bowl, then add three bowls of water to it. My mother adds cooking soda, or baking soda to it to break it down. I don’t bother. As I am going to use the pressure cooker on it, why waste nutrients? Baking soda is notorious for that). Oh, and if you are as much a nitpick as I am, then wash the grains before soaking at least thrice. I do, because I can remove any little clod of dirt that often comes along with the grains. Drain off half the remaining water after the soak is through and you are ready to cook.
Next, I pressure cooked it with 2 tablespoon of beautiful red onions sliced, a big pinch of cumin powder, a big pinch of turmeric powder, a big pinch of salt and 1 large chilli, chopped. Generally 35 minutes of pressure cooking (or 8 whistles in my pressure cooker) seems to do it for me.
While that was happening I prepared for the next step. In a large wok I heated up a tablespoon of oil (I like mustard, its perfect for something like this) and then put three beaten eggs in it, seasoned lightly with salt. I let the eggs set before I scrambled them, and kept at it till they were broken bits of custardy eggs, lightly browned on the edges. I removed and reserved them.
Then, I chopped a tomato into a fine dice, chopped fine an inch of ginger, and chopped up 1 green chilli and 1 onion into a fine dice. I also snipped up a handful of coriander leaves, or cilantro, and reserved them, in place of the Kasoori Methi. I let the pressure work its magic on the mung beans till they became bite-tender… i.e. tender, but not mushy.
Once I had everything in hand, I began.
Heat the aforementioned wok with a couple of teaspoons worth oil. I used mustard oil again. Raise the heat to medium high because you would be stir frying. Feel free to use butter, ghee, refined oil. Put the ginger in first. The ginger would become slightly golden, and then add the onions. Fry for a minute, stirring hard, before adding tomatoes and chillies to it, and then mix well, stirring quickly to give it a beautiful char. The char would add to the smoky flavor of the tadka later.
Add your mung, and mix well. Keep on stirring till you see the entire thing come to a rolling boil, add 1 teaspoon cumin powder and 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder. Mix again. Here you can add a teaspoon of kasuri methi if you like. Cover, simmer, leave scene of action for 15 minutes. Try not to stir it, until you think the water’s too less and your tadka is getting burnt. In that case, add a big lug of water to avoid burning.
Add the eggs. Continue mixing for another minute or so, till you see the desired consistency reached. I like mine slightly runny. You might not. So check. Season at the last moment, sprinkle the remaining coriander leaves (and if you’re like me, a green chilli chopped up fine) and serve, with a little dollop of the aforementioned golden ghee (or butter) on top and the flat bread of your choice.
I like rotis with this, but you can even have this with whatever takes your fancy. I have had it smeared on pNauruti (white bread) in the morning before running to work