Rasam – slurp!!! It`s my all time favourite comfort food. Even a not so intersting day is made spicy and special simply thinking of making rasam. Of all the rasams that I love, my favourite has always been the home made amma`s piping hot tomato rasam. In India of course, there is a lot of tang to the tomatoes, that amma makes tomato rasam with almost no tamarind. Here, sometimes I need the kick of tanginess from the tamarind so I do liberate myself by using the tamarind water base in the makng of thakkali rasam. On days when I get tomatillos, I use them on their own. I make this rasam in a zillion ways, but here is one of them…
1 big heirloom tomato/slicing tomato/2 roma tomatoes or 3 tomatillos.
1 cup of tamarind extract from a lime sized ball of tamarind.
1 spoon of Rasam Powder.
A pinch of turmeric.
A pinch of hing.
Sprigs of Cilantro.
1/3 cup of cooked toor dhal.
2 vertically slit green chillies.
A spoon of ghee, mustard seeds, curry leaves, pinch of jeera.
In a mixer container, drop half a tomato, a few sprigs of cilantro, curry leaves and 4-5 spoons of tamarind water and grind to a smooth paste.
Add this to the tamarind water already prepared and put in the rasam pot and place over the stove.
Chop the other half of the big tomato in to little pieces and add to the pot.
Slowly add salt, hing, rasam powder, little cilantro, curry leaves, turmeric and allow to simmer on medium low flame.
It`s important that the rasam is simmered in the pot over a low flame for maximum taste.
Take the cooked toor dhal and add a cup of water and using your fingers, mash the dhal and mix it well with the water.
Add this watery toor dhal to the reduced rasam concentrate in the pot.
Stir well and when you see the first boil, switch off, add the remaining sprigs of cilantro and curry leaves, the slit chillies and close with a lid immediately.
In a small kadai, season in ghee using mustard seeds, jeera and a dash of hing and pour over the rasam in the pot.
Milagu Jeeraga Rasam is also part of the comfort food series…On a cold day to have a dose of steaming pepper rasam along with piping hot rice and your favorite side of vegetable like vendekkai kari, Amma`s Alu Fry or “kootu” is something I can never trade anything else for!!! Whenever its the rainy season and we come down with a cold or cough, amma or Madurai amma would make piping hot rasam and we would feel fussed. It`s also “Pathya Samayal” as its given to people when are they not keeping well, to purify the body, build immunity and to recuperate. The flavor of the “rasam” is enhanced when you add a drop of ghee – what else can you call that aroma and taste – Divine!!!
This morning my husband was not keeping too well, complained of cold and sore throat and I thought this was a good day to make comfort food. Its lightly flavored with the sourness of the tomatoes and the pepper and cumin gives it that extra kick that enhances the warmth around the throat. Here it is, from my kitchen to yours…
1 1/2 cups of tamarind water extracted from a lime size tamarind .
1/4 cup of cooked toor dhal. (Optional)
Salt to taste
1 1/2 spoons of pepper.
1 spoon of jeera (cumin)
3/4 spoon of Bengal Gram
5 curry leaves.
Mustard, Vepampoo and curry leaves.
In the mixer, grind the dry roasted ingredients to a powder and THEN add one tomato chopped coarsely with a little tamarind water and grind to a paste.
In the copper bottomed vessel, add the ground paste and the remaining tamarind water.
Add salt, hing. curry leaves and turmeric and allow to boil on a medium low flame.
When the raw smell is gone and the liquid is reduced by 1/3, dilute the cooked toor dhal with 1/2-3/4 cup of water and pour it in.
If you are making this for a person who has an upset stomach, you may skip the toor dhal and simply dilute it with 1/2 cup of plain water.
When it begings to boil, switch off the stove and add chopped corriander.
Season in ghee with mustard, vepampoo and curry leaves.
The Vepampoo or the Neem Floweris believed to aid in digestion and stimulate the liver and also prevent many kinds of cancers, so I thought it would be a good idea to add some more nutrition and build immunity in to our systems.