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Using Spices in Indian Cooking aka Tempering

shemins tempering spices

Tempering of spices is a traditional method to extract the full flavour from spices. It is also known as “Tadka”. It captures and maintains the essence and aroma of the spices in hot oil, infusing the final dish with a distinct flavour and fragrance. This is done using Indian whole spices. If you are making a curry, then temper at the start. If you are making a dahl, rasam or sambar then it is best to temper at the end, in which case use a separate pan and simply add to the dish.


One or two tablespoons of oil is plenty. Ideally use ghee, coconut, sunflower or vegetable oil, but not olive oil or butter. The oil or ghee should be very hot at first, then reduced to medium, then the spices are added. You will know the oil is hot enough when you can see a slight shimmer.

You will know your tempering is done when the spices are crackling or have changed colour. Make sure if you are using cumin or mustard seeds you let them pop in the oil. If you burn the spices, you’ll have to throw your mixture out and start again, as the burnt flavour will ruin your whole dish. The key to tempering is heat control. Once your tempering is complete, you can start to add your other ingredients such as onions, meat & vegetables.

Related Products

Shemin’s Whole Spices (scroll down on link)

Shemin’s Indian Spice tin with 9  Whole Spices – Spices in Our Whole Spice Tin

No.1 – Cumin Seeds (20g) No.2 – Green Cardamom (5g), Cloves (2g), Whole Black Pepper (3g) No.3 – Cassia Bark (10g) No.4 – Mustard Seeds (20g) No.5 – Dried Kashmiri Chilli (10g) No.6 – Fenugreek Seeds (20g) No.7 – Panch Puren (25g)