Black Pepper and Tomato Rasam Recipe

For my Dad, rasam had to be made fresh every single day. Whatever the meal, whatever the menu and whatever the occasion, he had to have plain steamed rice and rasam to round off the meal. I know for sure it irked amma….like she would plan this elaborate menu and she’d still have to make his blessed rasam….i couldnt understand the fixation….all these years after he’s been gone too, i still dont. I am happy with either dal or a curry to go with my rice. I dont need to have a “full course” meal with dal, sambhar, rasam, curds, 2 vegetable dishes, rice, papad and a sweet dish…not that i dont enjoy a “full meal”…but i mean in this day and age, who has the time really?

When we have rice for a meal now, the “mixer” for K is always dal or some kuzhumbu. he’s not a rasam person, for he believes rasam is the poor cousin of sambhar and associates it with poverty and so he doesnt like to eat it. yeah he’s weird that way…did i tell you he also thinks capsicum is an obese chilli and he can never eat it? and that peas have no personality and that’s why they hide in a pod? and that no matter what the dish, he will pick them out and pile them onto the side of his plate? did i mention he has these weird fixations about food? no??

ok…i digress…. back to my dad and rasam… each time i simmer a pan of rasam, memories of my father come rushing back….all of them….i can almost see him mixing the rasam and rice and taking that pause before the first morsel of it was relished…its comfort food for me now….like that doll you hold onto when you are sick? i cling to the rasam my dad loved so much….While there’s a quick version that i make using powdered masalas, my father would have screwed his nose up at it, so this is his favourite tamarind based rasam….just to bring the memories alive

Chintapandu Tamata Miriyala Rasam ~ Tamarind Tomato and Pepper Soup (Makes 4 cups)

1/2 cup tamarind extract, made from a lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 30 mins and pulp extracted

1 small tomato

a few curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon cumin and mustard seeds

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander

2 cloves of garlic, crushed roughly

salt to taste

3 cups of water

1 teaspoon of oil

11/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander leaves

For the rasam powder, roast and dry grind the following

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

In a pan, mix together the tamarind pulp, water, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, roasted and powdered masala powder, salt and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes till the tomatoes are cooked through and mushy. check for the salt and adjust, adding more water if it is too tart.add the corainder leaves.

In a seasoning pan, heat the oil, splutter the mustard and cumin, add the curry leaves and add this to the boiling rasam.  Add the coriander leaves and simmer another couple of minutes. Take off the heat, cover and let cool for about 10 -15 minutes to let the spices meld in. Serve with steaming hot rice and papad or a dry vegetable dish for a perfectly wonderful meal.

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