Karen Schuld Photography: NYC Food Photographer

Sprouts in the Hood

Sprouts in the Hood
Exploring My Hood Through Food and Lifestyle Photography

Friday, January 14, 2011


Cold Winter's day

A bowl of dal is a comfort food.  It brings warmth to a cold day, after a snowstorm, in NYC.   My friends are always asking me for this mouth-watering recipe.

A Delicious and Comforting Bowl of Dal
Dal is a split pea, lentil or bean dish cooked in a massala “spice” mixture, which creates an aromatic entre full of complex and addicting flavors.  It took me 3 trips to India to figure out how to make this special dish.   The key to making a basic North Indian dal is in how you layer spices and other ingredients.  The taste of one of my favorite dals, Tarka dal, is particularly dependent on how you layer.

Close-up of Tarka "Tempering Mixture" on Dal

The tarka is a garnish made by tempering your favorite spices in a skillet smoldering with piping hot butter or ghee.

 "Tempering" is a process where your add your favorite spices, herbs and other flavors ,one at a time, to smoking hot oil, butter, or ghee.  The oil will extract and enhance all of the sharp, spicy and sweet flavors of your selected ingredients.
Tarka:  Spices, Herbs, Onions Being Flash Cooked in Butter


  1. Hi Karen, what kind of oil is best used to do the tempering in?

  2. butter or ghee is great for high heat tempering.

  3. If your vegan, replace the butter or ghee with palm oil.