Those days when I was a newly married girl in my in-laws' house, I had the luxury of in-house boys who mopped and cleaned the house. I had caretakers, in-house maids and cooks. Those were the days when Internet was barely getting popular or many years before blogger was born. I wish to go back to those days, again as a blogger to capture and learn the mesmerising array of varied cuisines the family lavished! Those were the days I lazed out or ignored the kitchen and took care of children mostly or was busy entertaining the unending flow of guests. If not with the above I found myself immersed in hand embroidery or painting.
Ever since we moved as a family of four, I wished to take care of cooking though I had some help with cutting veggies and cleaning the kitchen and rest of the house.
Saroja doesn't cook for me nor had I expected her to do stove top for my sake. But there were times she would bring in hot flavorful simple Rasam when I was sick and bedridden. The hot bowl of Rasam with the bursting flavour of the perfect medley of spices and garlic tasted heaven for my sick and bitter tongue.
Yesterday, I planned to make a surprise visit to her house as I didn't want to disturb her routine in hosting me; her ma'am. Equipped with my camera and a dish for the final photo shoot I headed around 10.30ish in the morning. She was getting ready to make lunch for her husband and herself and was getting excited to have me settled casually on the floor in the corner of her teeny weeny house watching her cook. I told her not to get nervous, be cool and carry on with the menu she planned for the day and that I will click along whatever she makes. She told me Thakkali Rasam and Vengaya Sambhar or Onion Sambhar were in the day as she ran out of her stock of veggies.
Wah! I was excited to see my favourite Rasam getting ready in a jiffy with the initial touches!
I don't wish to elaborate the carminative properties of this rasam which was a boon to me while sick, right now coz I cant wait to elaborate on how she makes it..
Tomato Garlic Rasam
Yields 3 large soup bowls ( no less than 800 ml)
Total time needed- 30 minutes
2 medium, ripe red, sour variety tomatoes
1 cup of dal water (2 tsps cooked dal + about 1 cup of water)
1/2-3/4 cup of thin tamarind extract (from a small marble sized tamarind, soaked)
2 cups water
3 fat pinches of Perungaya podi / hing
3/4 - 1 tsp of rock salt (or regular table salt)
To Crush Coarsely
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Jeerakam / cumin seeds
2 tspful Milagu / pepper corns
A Milagai /red chilly
7-8 cloves of Nattu Poondu / garlic (long slender country garlic works best)
To Season - 2 tsps oil, 1/2 tsp each of mustard seeds and urad dal
A sprig of curry leaves and a few stalks of cilantro to garnish
She already had a gooseberry sized tamarind soaked in luke warm water for about half an hour and had about half a soup bowl of thinly extracted tamarind water.
She transferred the tamarind extract to another vessel along with 2 ripe red tomatoes, curry leaves, hing and you can see 3/4 tsp rock salt getting into too.
The tomatoes were squeezed using hands. 2 cups of water was mixed in.
She got the spices ready for some pounding and crushing now. Pepper corns, cumin seeds, 7-8 cloves of garlic and a red chilly.
They were placed on a washed and wiped dry ammikkallu (or a flat stone and pestle set used for grinding/pounding/ crushing in South India traditionally). The pepper and cumin were pounded coarse, the chilly- crushed,
the garlic, again, got crushed (with skin)
(If you try to make this rasam, use your pulser/mixer and keep up the above order. Let the garlic be last)
The coarse mix of spices were transferred to the earlier vessel
She also had 3/4 of a soup bowl of runny dal water, back in the kitchen. (2 tsps cooked dal + about 1 cup of water)
Now, to the stove top. She heated 2 tsps of oil, spluttered the mustard seeds, browned the urad dal and poured over the tomato-garlic-spice liquid. This was brought to a single boil.
She mentioned never to 'over boil' the liquid. A single 'roll of boil' and remove from fire. Close it with a lid while it's hot so that the flavours get locked in!
The stove was put off and the steaming hot rasam transferred back to the same vessel was garnished with coriander leaves. She did a taste test to check salt.
Saroja at work :) She made Vengaya Sambhar as well and I have the pictorials of that too.
A simple Rasam doesn't need much of elaboration as I had probably done here. I wanted to make the post interesting and different with elaborate step-wise.
Do you know, a few of my relatives check the culinary skills of their newly appointed cooks asking them to make a pot of rasam and tasting it :) Weird, but there is some truth in it. Even the best of cooks fail to attain the perfect concoction of the humble Rasam!
I forgot to take along my towels/props for the final presentation and what you see here are the crude planks of wood with rusty nails jutting out here and there ( it was some task keeping the nails out of frame during the photo shoot ;)) which I managed to pick up from her backyard and then all lined up and stacked carefully , finally topped with the bowl of her steaming hot and flavorful Rasam.
Updated on 8th Feb
I am so glad to receive your happy messages, fb shared pictures and phone calls of your feed back regarding this recipe!
Let me ascertain a point here. The total 'liquid part' of rasam of the above recipe should be no less than 800 ml. Or else it will be too sour. If you use real sour variety of tomatoes, you can omit the tamarind. You can also feel free to add a tsp extra of cumin and pepper for a hotter rasam. The handpounded spices is the secret of the flavourful rasam. You can use your hand mortar and pestle too, as it requires only coarse crush of the spices and garlic. Make you electric pulser the last option :)
Sending to Dish it out – Lentils and Garlic and Vardhini’s page