After a bustling festive season it’s “Rasam Week” at our home. As I’ve mentioned here in my very first post, Rasam is one of our ultimate comfort foods. It’s the dish we turn to when we crave a home cooked meal, the dish we make when we want to “detox” and the one we cook as an accompaniment for a traditional South Indian occasion. Rasam is quite the ubiquitous and well loved South Indian dish. Typically a clear broth spiced with different flavors, rasam is another word for juice or shall we say the essence of all South Indian food:)
It was Girish’s turn to plan the weekly menu since he is home for a full week after ages. And here’s what his menu looked like.
South Indian style oatmeal for breakfast and Rasam for dinner. Every. Single. Day. 🙂
Yes I am married to someone who can eat the same thing for days – thank heavens. As long as it’s one of his favorite dishes.
Makes it easy for planning and cooking so let’s be immensely grateful for that shall we?:) Here’s to someone who is fuss free when it comes to meal planning. I repeat, as long as it’s one of his choice dishes. He is still quite the food critic so let me just say it’s safest to stick with the requested menu:)
So I thought I would chronicle the types of rasams while I was at it. The garlic rasam is a house favorite and is exactly the way my mother in law (the queen of rasams in the family) makes it. Also one of Nikhil’s favorite dishes and a common request from him when he craves Indian comfort food.
The lemon rasam recipe is adapted from Chandra Padmanabhan’s cookbook “Dakshin“. I have tried making lemon rasam many times before but I found this method to be the best. I suppose the garnish of crushed black pepper and cumin topped with lemon is what adds to this rasam’s burst of flavor. Whatever the type of rasam, it’s best enjoyed with some hot (white or brown) rice, a dollop of fresh ghee and some cooked dry vegetable as a side. We love urulai roast (roasted potato), the way Amma makes it though you could try this one (Chettinad urulai roast) and the cauliflower fry as a yum side too.
Recipe for Garlic Rasam:
Ingredients: (for 4)
- Garlic cloves – 3 big or 4-5 small
- Cilantro – a small bunch plus 1/4 cup chopped leaves
- Black pepper – 3/4 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Tamarind – a small line sized ballGarlic rasam powder (store bought) – 1 tsp (you may also use regular rasam powder)
- Ghee – 2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Curry leaves – a sprig
- Dry red Arbol chili – 1
- Garlic – 1 chopped fine.
1. Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 5 minutes till it softens. Make a pulp of the tamarind, strain out any fibres or seeds and add enough water to make about 1 1/4 cups of tamarind pulp. (more than what you see in the picture.)
2. Take the garlic pods, the cilantro bunch, black pepper and cumin seeds in a blender, with a tbsp of water and grind to a fine paste.
3. Take the tamarind water in a heavy vessel (I use a special vessel called Iyya Chombu – made of an alloy of metals- used to make rasams traditionally.)
4. Add the rasam powder, half of the cilantro and let the mixture come to a slow boil on a medium flame. This will take about 5-7 minutes, till the raw smell of the tamarind and the rasam powder goes away.
5. Now add the garlic pepper cumin paste to the tamarind water. You may add another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water here. Add salt. I usually taste at this stage to check for salt/sourness etc. Adjust with water, salt accordingly.
6. Let the mixture boil for about 5-7 minutes till the raw garlic smell goes away.
7. Add chopped cilantro, and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
8. Heat about 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter or brown butter) in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds when ghee is hot. After they splutter add the cumin seeds, red chili and curry leaves. Add the chopped garlic. Saute for a minute, and then add the tempering to the rasam. Cover the rasam with a lid until you are ready to serve, This keeps the flavors of the tempering (tadka/popu/talithaal/chonk/bagar) intact and lets them infuse in the rasam.
Enjoy with hot rice, a dollop of ghee and the vegetable side dish of your choice. Divine.
Recipe for Lemon Rasam (didn’t click the pictures in time for this one but will add them eventually;)
- 1/4 cup toor dal cooked
- 3/4 cup vine ripe cherry tomatoes chopped (I find cherry tomatoes give the best flavor though you can use vine ripe regular tomatoes as well)
- Juice of 1 big lemon
- a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 ” piece ginger grated
- 4 green chilies
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 3/4 tsp black peppercorns
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp rasam powder
- 2 tsp ghee
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp asafetida
- 1 dry red arbol chile
- a sprig of curry leaves
- Take the ginger and green chilies in a small blender and blend to a smooth paste.
- Powder the cumin seeds and black peppercorn in a coffee grinder or mortal pestle. I prefer this to be a smooth powder too though you may grind it to a coarse powder if you like the texture in the rasam.
- Take the cooked dal in the iyya chombu, add about 1 1/2 cups of water, salt, turmeric powder. You may add more water depending on the taste. Adjust salt accrodingly.
- Add the tomatoes and the ginger chile paste to the mixture. I also add the rasam powder at this time. Sprinkle some chopped cilantro. Let the mixture come to a slow boil, until the raw smell of the rasam powder and tomatoes are boiled away. (Rasam powder is optional, I add a small amount just for the flavor, but you can get by without it).
- Now heat the ghee in a separate pan, add all the ingredients for the tempering. Add 1 tsp of the powdered cumin-black pepper powder to the ghee and then turn off the heat. Add the tempering to the rasam.
- Add the lemon juice to the rasam and mix. Garnish with more chopped cilantro.