Feb 17, 2007

Rasam (South Indian Soup?)

This is the most favoured companion to rice on most South Indian plates and palates. It easily mixes with rice and also can be accompanied by various dry curries of southern india thus lending a variety for the meal. It can be done with or without vegetables too.
There are many variations to the Rasam but I will describe here the one I make usually. I think it serves 3-4.

What you need to make Rasam
  • 1 cup Thur Dal (type of lentil) (cup you would use for serving in a thali)
  • 1 medium sized ball of tamarind (you have to remove the seeds ofcourse, the ball should fit into your fist, some people like the tanginess of tamarind so the quantity is according to your tastes)
  • 2 cups water (+1 cup if you will add vegetables to rasam)
  • Any Vegetable (optional)
  • 2 Red Tomatoes
  • 2 spoons of Rasam powder (then again if you want it hotter add more)
  • 2 strands of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 2 tsp Mustard seeds for seasoning
  • 2 tsp Oil for seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar (for emergency removal of over-hotness/over-spicyness)

Preparation for making Rasam
  • Wash the Thur dal thouroughly (I usually wash it three times, everytime with fresh water)
  • Wash and cut the vegetables (except tomatoes).
  • Soak the tamarind ball in water. Leave it in till actual use.
  • Put the thur dal into a container, add the water to this, add in the vegetables if any, place the uncut tomatoes on top of this heap.
  • Pressure cook this whole thing.
  • Wash the coriander leaves and cut into small pieces.

Method to make Rasam
  • Open the cooker only after it has fully cooled down (I have tried being a rebel and the cooker doesnt really care)
  • Remove the tomatoes from the container and keep separately in a shallow vessel.
  • Place the container with the rest of the stuff on a lighted stove. Keep the flame medium
  • Add a pinch of turmeric to this and allow it to boil.
  • In the meanwhile mash the cooked tomatoes. Take care not to burn your fingers. Use a ladle or something like that.
  • Some people dont like the seeds of tomatoes in the rasam (they say it gives a little sourness, I dont think so), some dont like the outer skin of the tomatoes.
  • The skin can be removed very easily after a tomato is cooked before mashing.
  • If you have to remove the seeds then tough luck because you will need to mash thoroughly and filter carefully.
  • Add the mashed tomato into the container on the stove. Allow it to boil a little.
  • In the meanwhile squeeze the soaking tamarind in the same water so that its juices get mixed with the water. Do it for a few minutes.
  • Now pour the tamarind water (none of the solids) into the container and allow it to boil.
  • Add the rasam powder and allow it to boil
  • Add salt and yes, boil!
  • Add coriander leaves and keep it boiling.
  • Taste the rasam now and you will know if there is anything less (salt or rasam powder etc). Add whatever is required.
  • Make sure you boil the whole thing thoroughly.
  • You know its done when you taste it and you taste rasam and not spicy or tangy water.
  • Remove from flame.
  • Place a small kadai (you get special ladles for this in India) on the flame and add the oil to it. After it heats, add the mustard seeds and let it sputter.
  • Remove the kadai from the flame and pour its contents on the rasam. Mix.
  • Your rasam is now seasoned too.
My fundas
  • Eat hot with hot rice.
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