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I love dahl. In India (where my folks were from) there are an almost infinite set of combinations of dahls and corresponding phorons* (spice-seasoned anointing oil/ghee)

But I only know a handful of 'phorons' e.g.

Red lentils: Panchphoron + garlic and onion. Toor dahl: garlic + bay and mustards seeds.

Does anyone know where I can find out about more phorons? Do you know any yourself?

* a Bengali word - people from different parts of the sub-continent may use different names

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OK. I think in Hindi it's called 'tadka' or 'chaunk'.. Which is basically tempering spices in hot oil and then adding that to the dal.. Am I right?? – notthetup Feb 15 '11 at 18:42
Oh look!! Wikipedia has some info on that as well.. – notthetup Feb 15 '11 at 18:43
@ntt You are right - I don't think there are any other cuisines on earth that use this technique - another question for ;-) I couldn't find it on Wikipedia because I was looking for 'foron'/ 'phoron' etc. Many thanks! – 5arx Feb 15 '11 at 20:37
And yet another name is "tempering".. that seems to be the way it is often rendered in English versions of Indian recipes. – Michael at Herbivoracious Feb 15 '11 at 23:28

OK. So for the real answer.. Here are some 'tadka' that I know..

  1. Typical : Mustard, Turmeric, Asafotida, Red Chilli Powder
  2. Jeera : Cumin (sometimes in ghee (clarified butter) instead of oil)
  3. Just Garlic : Garlic
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Great, thanks for posting. One Question: are these general 'tadka's or are they specific to particular dahls/dishes? – 5arx Feb 15 '11 at 22:33
Hmm... As far as I remember, my mother would use different ones for different dishes, but there isn't a hard and fast rule. You can experiment.. I am guessing it also depends on which part of India you're in.. – notthetup Feb 16 '11 at 13:55
More Tadka/Chaunk/Phoron info here: – 5arx Mar 17 '11 at 12:48

The following site has a few recipes under the header of Basic Tempering Dal Recipes:

Being described as "basic", these won't be using any really special spices; but on the other hand, from what you said at the start of your question I'm going to assume you're not in India yourself and that therefore you likely won't have access either to many of the more unique spices that are used in India to season dahl. For more ideas, you can find many bloggers that have posted recipes online, but (at least for English-language recipes) you may need to use different search term variations to find them ("tadka dal", "tarka dahl", "lentil tempering", ...). Again, this may lead to recipes using rather basic combinations, but I hope you at least pick up a new idea or two.

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Thanks, I'll take a look. I'm not in India (my parents live there for half the year), but I can get pretty much everything I can think of (for north indian food, anyway) where I am. I had this idea that phorons/tadkas/chaunks were a characteristic of Bengali cooking (certainly I have lost count of all the variations I've encountered in my mum's cooking over the years), interesting to see they're not... – 5arx Feb 16 '11 at 0:29

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