Indian Trinity (Tadka) Variations

1. Onion, Ginger, and Garlic

  • Onion: Provides sweetness and depth of flavor.
  • Ginger: Adds warmth and a slight spiciness.
  • Garlic: Adds a pungent, savory flavor.

This combination is used in a variety of Indian dishes, including curries, gravies, and stews. It forms the aromatic base for many recipes.

2. Onion, Tomato, and Green Chili

  • Onion: Adds sweetness and depth.
  • Tomato: Provides acidity and a slight sweetness.
  • Green Chili: Adds heat and a fresh, vibrant flavor.

This trio is often used in curries and sauces, providing a balanced base of sweetness, acidity, and heat.

3. Onion, Bell Pepper, and Tomato

  • Onion: For sweetness and depth.
  • Bell Pepper: Adds a mild sweetness and slight bitterness.
  • Tomato: For acidity and sweetness.

This combination is common in dishes like Jalfrezi, where bell peppers add a unique flavor and texture.

Basic Tadka (Tempering)

Tadka, also known as tempering, is a technique where whole spices are fried in hot oil or ghee to release their flavors. It’s often used at the beginning or end of cooking to enhance the dish’s flavor profile. A basic tadka might include:

  • Cumin Seeds: Adds warmth and earthiness.
  • Mustard Seeds: Adds a sharp, tangy flavor.
  • Fenugreek Seeds: Adds a slight bitterness.
  • Curry Leaves: Adds a fresh, aromatic flavor.
  • Dry Red Chilies: Adds heat and a smoky flavor.
  • Asafoetida (Hing): Adds a pungent aroma.

Examples of Indian Base Mixtures

  1. Punjabi Base:
    • Onion, ginger, garlic, tomato, green chili, cumin seeds.
    • Used for: Butter chicken, chole, paneer dishes.
  2. South Indian Base:
    • Onion, mustard seeds, curry leaves, dry red chilies, ginger, garlic.
    • Used for: Sambar, rasam, vegetable stir-fries.
  3. Goan Base:
    • Onion, garlic, ginger, green chili, coconut, tamarind.
    • Used for: Goan fish curry, prawn curry, vindaloo.

Recipe Example: Basic Indian Curry Base


  • 2 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat oil or ghee in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Let them splutter.
  3. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
  4. Add minced garlic, ginger, and green chilies. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and turmeric powder. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Use this base for your curry, adding your choice of vegetables, meat, or legumes.

This basic curry base can be adjusted with different spices and ingredients to suit various Indian dishes, providing a versatile starting point for numerous recipes.