Drizzling oil over a dish as a final flourish is an easy way to add richness and flavor. In India, cooks take it a step further, first infusing the oil with spices and aromatics. And rather than strain the mixture, they pour it — seeds and all — onto cooked greens, raw vegetables, and starchy legumes, adding both taste and texture.
We found these seasoned oils, called tarka, easy to make and even easier to use. The method was simple: Heat oil, add seasonings, steep briefly, then drizzle. It brought out the character of almost any spice (whole or ground), herb or aromatic, and was just as delicious over mashed potatoes or popcorn as on dal or steamed vegetables.