Mysore Rasam

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Exotic … is how one describes this rasam! As the name implies, this rasam has its origin from Karnataka and unlike rasam known as “saaru” in this region, it is called Mysore Rasam. A specialty of this rasam is use of coconut, and as is the trend in Karnataka, desiccated coconut is used in many dishes, a tradition that possibly evolved as a technique to preserve excess coconuts from spoiling. I prefer to use fresh coconut as desiccated coconut gives a different aroma akin to coconut oil. No rasam powder is used here as the ingredients are freshly roasted and powdered. Another feature of Karnataka is add jaggery to rasam. Actually I prefer to add either jaggery or a pinch of sugar in rasam as such as it enhances the taste.

This rasam is normally thick in consistency and makes a wholesome mix with steamed rice.

Ingredients

Tamarind  lemon-sized/gooseberry-sized ball (1 tbsp pulp)

Arahar dal  2 tbsp (to be pressure cooked)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Tomato 2 medium-sized (blanched)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Water 4 cups

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee  1 tbsp

Powdered Jaggery ½tsp

For rasam powder

Red chilies     5

Peppercorns     1 tsp

Cumin seeds     1 tsp

Coriander seeds  1 tbsp

Chan dal        1 tsp

Grated Coconut  2 tbsp

Method

  • Add a few drops of ghee in a wok and roast the spices for the powder in the order chilies, pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and chana dal. The spices should be roasted on a low flame and just till the aroma is released to retain the aroma. Transfer to a dry plate and in the same wok dry roast the coconut till the moisture is gone. Transfer to the plate and wait for it cool. Transfer the cooled spices to a blender and blitz it to get a slightly coarse powder. Keep the powder aside and in the same blender puree the blanched tomatoes and fresh curry leaves.
  •  In the meantime pressure-cook the dal after adding turmeric powder to it and keep it ready.
  • Add salt to the tamarind extract in a wide vessel and boil it till the raw smell of tamarind is gone as it happens in less than 5 minutes. Add the puree and boil for another 2 minutes or a minute longer and add the mashed dal. Make up the volume to 4 cups or roughly 1 liter. When the mix starts boiling add the spice powder, jiggery, and asafotida. Switch off the flame as soon as the rasam starts frothing and boiling.
  • Heat ghee in a wok and add mustard seed when the ghee is hot. As soon as the seeds splutter transfer the tempered seeds to the rasam. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy one of the heavenly rasams!

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Rasam Powder

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Rasam powder is one of the core ingredients of most rasams unless one were to vary the basic powder with varied spicing as in pepper rasam, for instance. Although many branded powders are available in the market home-made powder has its edge over commercially available spices!

Ingredients

Red Chilies           100 g

Coriander seeds     150 g

Pepper corns   50 g

Cumin seeds 50 g

Arahar dal (split pigeon pea)   50 g

Turmeric powder 30 g (1 tbsp)

Method

  • Place a wok over low flame and dry roast pepper and cumin seeds for 2 minutes. Just as the aroma is released transfer to a platter and allow it to cool.
  • In the same wok dry roast the chilies till it feels crisp. Remove after a minute or two and ensure that the color does not change. transfer to the platter.
  • Roast the coriander seeds again just enough to ensure it is dry and crisp. Transfer to the platter.
  • Roast the dal now till the color starts changing and you get the aroma of roasted dal as will be seen in 3 minutes or so.
  • Transfer the cooled ingredients along with turmeric powder to a blender and powder it fine. Transfer the powder to an airtight container. It can be store for many months.

Chef’s Note

When done on a large scale I prefer to use rhizome of dry turmeric  in place of powder and roast it a little.

When sufficient sunlight is available, it  is preferable to sun dry the chillies and coriander seeds than roast them.

Green Pepper Rasam

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With a short note highlighting the role of rasam I decided to kickoff the series with an innovative rasam. Bell pepper is one of the most flavorsome veggies, rich in antioxidants and finds its way onto many dishes from healthy salad to rich pizza. Certainly it needs to find its way into rasam too.  Many rasams are based on the core paruppu/tomato rasam with other ingredients finding their way into it. I decided to smoke the pepper to give it added flavor and it certainly made it divine!

Ingredients

Green pepper    1 (big)

Tomato               2 (medium-sized)

Curry leaves from 3 sprigs

Arahar dal                 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder        ¼ tsp

Tamarind    lemon-sized ball or 1 tbsp pulp

Rasam powder 2 tsp

Salt  1 tsp

Pepper powder ½ tsp

Cumin powder ½ tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Ghee 1tsp

Water 4 cups

bell pepper rasam

Method

  • Add turmeric powder to the washed dal and pressure cook till it is soft and mushy.
  • Brush the bell pepper with a few drops of oil and grill it on a low flame till it stops crackiling and the skin turns black in color. Drop the pepper into a ziploc bag and leave in the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps in peeling/brushing off the skin easily.
  • If using tamarind extract the pulp into a vessel after soaking the scales for 10 minutes in hot water or add the tamarind into the vessel and add a cup of water,
  • To the extract add rasam powder, salt and boil it on low flame for 5 minutes or longer till the raw smell is gone.
  • Meanwhile. blanch the tomatoes and remove the skin. Transfer the tomato, curry leaves, and peeled pepper to a blender and blitz to get a smooth pulp.
  • Add the mashed dal to the boiled rasam base  and add the remaining three cups of water. As soon as the rasam starts boiling add the blended pulp and switch off the flame when the first bubbles are seen. DO NOT boil it too long.
  • Heat the ghee in a small wok and add the mustard seeds to temper. As soon as it starts spluttering add the pepper powder and cumin powder and switch off the flame. Pour the tempered seasoning to the rasam, garnish with coriander leaves, and enjoy one of the most divine rasams!

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Note

No asafotida was added as the rasam is flavorful with bell pepper

Rasam Galore

Rasam … the simple term from Sanskrit, and a dish made in every South Indian household is quintessential of what it means … “the essence”. Whoever coined the term for this dish must have realized that it is really the essence of cooking and possibly the soul food for many like me. Whether it be a celebration as a wedding where feasting is looked forward to, a party where it becomes an appetizer, a comfort dish when one feels low, a digestive during sickness, name it and rasam is always there to meet one’s needs. This is one dish where it takes varied forms from its basic ingredients: a sour base, lentil, spice in the form of ready rasam powder or made with freshly ground ingredients, tempering and garnishing with curry leaves or cilantro leaves. Mind you, the tempering in ghee (clarified butter) is vital in bringing out the flavor to the hilt.

Wherever tamarind serves as the sour base one can use tamarind pulp in place of extract from soaked tamarind scales to save on time and for rasam in a jiffy.

Variations of these building blocks with some other ingredients finding their way into the rasam have given way for a galaxy of rasams! Much as I would love to post blogs on every type, I propose to post at least a dozen of them based on the occasions or requirements: Some the most commonly known ones, a few that are not so common and a few innovative ideas!
I do hope my effort in taking this dish to more households across the continents works. Hope you enjoy them and I would love feedback too.

 

Tamarind Paste

Imli paste

 

 

A ready stock of tamarind comes handy in many preparations such as Sambahr, kuzhambu, rasam, puli kaachal when you are in a hurry or even as additive for sour taste in place of amchur (mango powder) in stir-fry  dishes.  An urge for chutneys as khatta-meetha chutney, imli ka chutney can also be quickly made when t he paste is on hand. A well spent time of 15 minute to 20 minutes goes a long way up to a month easily, that is. if the stock does not get over  by then! I always store a bottle of this pulp on hand, but it somehow didn’t occur to me that I should post this in the blog until I decided to do this Rasam series.

Ingredient

Seedless tamarind 250 g (1 cup)

Water 1 cup

Method

  • Take the tamarind scale in a metallic bowl and add about one-third cup of water. Place the bowl in a pressure cooker and steam it for two whistles.
  • On cooling blitz the soaked tamarind to make a paste.
  • Transfer to a colander and mash it with your fingers to bring out as much pulp as possible.  If the pulp is too thick to pass through the sieve add some water from the remaining two-thirds cup  to filter as much pulp as possible. The pulp collected with 2/3  cup of water is as thick as what is shown below. The fiber left behind is just about the size of a marble

  • Collect the pulp in a wide thick- bottomed pan and thcken it on a low flame for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bottle on cooling and can be stored for about a month.

Note

  • A measure of 1 tbsp of pulp equals  the extract from a lemon-sized ball of tamarind.
  • If you are at leisure, you can soak the tamarind in a bowl and leave it overnight in the refrigerator and skip stemin in the pressure cooker.
  • Needs no additive as salt or oi as the acidity of the pulp preserves it

Imli paste

Fusilli-Chickpea Sundal

 

 

 

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A long time since I posted any recipe. The heat has been killing me and the added humidity factor has made it seem at least 4 to 5 degrees higher than the actual temperature  making it feel like 44°C. Added to t he woes are the unscheduled power outages. Finally I decided to shake off my lethargy and post something that is slightly “hatke” from the routine. Ad has also been asking for healthy dishes and I thought I could give twist to pasta and make sundal that goes well as a rejuvenating dish.

I would have preferred to try with macaroni but as I had only fusilli I tried and it turned out pretty good.

Ingredients

Fusilli 1 cup

Chickpea 1 cup

Grated coconut  1 tsp

Curry powder  1 tsp

Salt 1 tsp (as per taste)

Tamarind paste ½ tsp

Curry leaves from 2 sprigs

Oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida 1 pinch

Method

  • Soak the chickpea for 3 or 4 hours and pressure cook it for 4 whistles.
  • Boil 2 cups of water in a wide vessel and add fusilli in the boiling water,  few drops of oil, and  a pinch of salt, cover the vessel and cook/blanch it for 2 minutes. Ensure it has al dente  texture to retain the shape (mine got overdone and broke). Drain the pasta in a colander and let it cool.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan and let the mustard splutter. Simmer the heat and add asafotida and curry leaves to the pan. When the asafotida aroma is felt add the chickpea to the pan. Add curry powder, tamarind paste and salt and mix well.
  • Switch off the flame and add the cooled pasta and coconut and mix well with a spatula.

Enjoy the ethnic version of pasta

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Chef’s Note

  • You can replace tamarind paste with to get a tangy flavor
  • Any variety of pasta can be tried in place of fusilli.