Tarka is a technique used in Indian cooking which involves frying spices (or herbs, nuts, or chiles) in oil or ghee to add flavor. Think of it as a sort of hot, spiced dressing. I’ve used lime and cumin together here, which really lifts all the other ingredients and takes this salad to a whole new level.
I love to eat this salad warm and in the summer when the cherry tomatoes are at their best.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side
1 x 14-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1 pound ripe baby plum tomatoes, quartered
6 scallions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roughly ground
1½ Indian green chiles, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoons salt
½ cup (or a large handful) unsalted cashews
juice of 1 lime
1¼ cups cilantro, finely chopped
Put a tablespoon of oil into a frying pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the chickpeas. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the chickpeas are crispy, then add the tomatoes and scallions. Stir-fry briefly to warm through, then transfer to a serving bowl.
To make the tarka, heat the ghee and 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. When it’s melted, add the ground cumin seeds, green chiles, black pepper, salt, and cashews. Mix well, then fry until the cashews are golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice, stir again, and take off the heat.
To serve, pour the tarka over the salad. Stir to mix, then add the cilantro and mix again.