Mar 6, 2013

Menasu Saaru - Pepper Soup - A tonic for cold and cough

It has been a week of insistent cough and drippy noses at my home thanks to the drastic weather changes that abound. T needed something soothing for his throat and asked me to make Menasu saaru that his mom makes. I had never made it before but since a request for a particular dish comes rarely from him I decided that I had to take the plunge. 
With a jog down his memory lane to remember what aunty, as I call her, lovingly puts in it and some searching on the internet, we came to a conclusion on what needs to go into this soup. 
It had to have pepper because the soup is named after it and also because of the antioxidants which relieve cold symptoms, dry cough and congestion. Cumin had to be in it for all its antiseptic properties which would aid in fighting against the cold. Garlic for the nice taste it would imbue into the concoction and also for its expectorant like effects for cough. Curry leaves for its wonderful soothing nature and also anti-bacterial nature. Red chillies for taste and maybe it helps get the bad stuff out. 

My mother makes a different kind of rasam for such occasions. Its called Molaga Chatambd which also translates to Menasu saaru or Pepper soup. But the taste is completely different although the curative properties are similar. I even store the powder on hand to use readily. I will post about it later. The

Menasu Saaru

Serving : 3 cups
Prep Time : 15 mins     Cook Time : 30 mins


2-inch ball of Tamarind
1-inch cube of Jaggery (use more if you like it sweet)
3 cups Water
Salt to taste

For the Seasoning

2 tsp Black Peppercorns
2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 cloves Garlic pods
Handful of Curry Leaves
2 Red Chillies
2 tsp Ghee


  1. Soak the tamarind in warm water for around 15 minutes. 
  2. Once the tamarind softens, squeeze it further to get all the juice mixed up with the water. Do this for around 5 mins to extract all the juice. 
  3. Filter the tamarind juice either with your hand (fingers acting as the sieve) or use a tea filter (needs a lot of patience. 
  4. Place a heavy bottomed vessel on medium heat, add 3 cups of water and add the filtered tamaring juice to it. 
  5. Add the jaggery into it and allow it to boil for around 20 - 25 minutes. 
  6. As you boil, add more water if it becomes too tangy for your palate. 
  7. Add salt to taste.

To make the Seasoning

  1. Peel the skin of the garlic and crush it. I placed the garlic pod on a cutting board, placed the flat side of my knife on it and banged on it with my wrist. 
  2. Coarsely crush the peppercorns. I used a heavy stone against the peppercorns on my cutting board for lack of pestle and mortar. 
  3. Coarsely crush the cumin. Thank me for the heavenly smell in your kitchen after this. 
  4. Break the red chillies in half.
  5. Heat the ghee in a small wok on medium heat and add the pepper, cumin seeds, garlic, red chillies and curry leaves. Let it fry while you sti.
  6. Pour the seasoning on top of the boiled soup.
  7. This concoction can be had as soup or mixed with rice. In either case eat it while its eat. 

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