Populapeti: A fixture in Indian Kitchens, this one is a “Must have”. It is a round box which exactly fits 7 small cups. These cups should be filled with:
Jeera – Jeelakara
Mustard Seeds – Avalu
Urad dal – Minapappu
Chenna dal – Senaga pappu
Fenugeek Seeds – Menthulu
Vammu - Ajwain
Pepper Seeds – Miriyallu
There will be a plate like layer on top of the cups; this is a perfect place for Red Chilies and Garlic pods.
Hing (Ingua) normally comes in a ready to use shaker.
This is a handy way to organize these items which are used in less quantity but are very essential in enhancing the taste of almost every dish.
Sometimes people use the 7th cup for turmeric instead of pepper, but I like to have turmeric and red chili powder in glass jars.
Tadka or Poppu is tempering of the dish with oil and these items. The oil is the base in the tadka which helps to bind all the items in the dish with the spices and other things used while preparing the dish.
People add tadka at the end sometimes to retain the crunch of the dals and as a garnish when the dish is really simple.
Tadka is a personal thing; I like to have mine with more mustard seeds, hing and red chilies. Suite your taste buds. Key to good tadka is fry till all of the items are nicely fried/roasted.