Instant Milagu Rasam (pepper cumin soup) - A South Indian tamarind and tomato based soup seasoned with freshly ground cumin and pepper.
It's that time of the year again. It is fast approaching. The days are becoming shorter and the sky, dove grey. The riot of colours on the leaves is fading. The walks are becoming brisker as there is more nip in the air as winter is right around the corner. Time to pull out your sweaters, mittens, scarves and anything else that keeps you cosy and warm! So it's a winter recipe today that will keep us warm us throughout this season.
Instant Milagu (pepper) Rasam
Rasam is a south Indian traditional dish. Rasam means juice in Tamil which is what the dish is. It is made of tamarind extract with the addition of tomatoes and freshly ground spices and sometimes garlic.
Indian culture strongly appreciates food as a preventive & healing medicine. Rasam is one of a heal and nourish dish. It is considered as an effective home remedy for sickness and especially cold. There is a reason for this dish to be of fluid consistency. In a traditional meal this is had in between meals. It acts as an digestive aider. It is eaten after sambhar rice and had before curd rice. If you are not familiar with the south indian dining, let me tell you we have a purpose and reason for having the food in an order. Sambhar being heavy (with lentils) is had first and then comes the Rasam which aids in your bowel movements and lastly comes the curd/yoghurt a natural probiotic that cools and again good for digestion.
We have rasam as a part of our everyday meal with rice. The consistency of the rasam rice is also flowing and mildly spiced. The heat comes from black pepper. Hence a great thing to have one when is sick. Even though tamarind extract is the main base, there are so many varieties of rasam. You can flavour them with lime juice, pineapple, garlic, coriander and one of my friend recently did a beet rasam as well.
It is fluid in consistency almost similar to an all clear soup. So this can also be had like a soup. All by itself. It's warm and soothing and it is so satisfying. Preparation is not so complicated. All you need to know is how to balance the tangy tamarind and the spices. It is slightly tangy and it has the bite of the pepper heat.
A South Indian tamarind and tomato based soup seasoned with freshly ground cumin and pepper. Traditionally it is had with rice but this can be had as a soup.
- 1 medium sized tomato
- marble sized tamarind pulp (or 2 tsp tamarind paste)
- 2 teaspoon pepper cumin powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon rasam powder (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
- Coriander leaves for garnishing
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3-4 curry leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
Soak the tamarind pulp in 1 cup of warm water. Mash the pulp and extract the juice from it. Strain and keep aside.
In a saucepan add the tamarind extract, crushed tomato, 1 teaspoon cumin-pepper powder, salt, rasam powder (if you have) and 1 cup water. Bring this to boil and keep it on until the raw smell of the tomato and the tamarind go off. Keep the flame on medium high.
Once the quantity is reduced in half, lower the flame and add another 2 cups of water. Keep it on the stove until it froths on the top. Remove from the flame immediately.
In another small pan, heat ghee and fry the garlic (if not skip to the next step). Keep stirring until it turns golden brown. Remove and add them to the rasam. Take care not to burn it.
In the same pan, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Switch off the flame and add the curry leaves, 1 teaspoon of pepper-cumin powder and asafoetida powder. Pour this over the rasam.
Mix well. Check for salt and adjust. Finally, garnish with coriander leaves.
- Tanginess of the tamarind vary a lot. It is said that the old ones are more tangy and tastier than the newer ones. Just like wine, aging and quality plays a role here. So the marble sized amount is just a bar. The final dish is slightly tangy.
- If it is too tangy add some more water and you can also increase the amount of pepper-cumin water.
- Once you add the water (in step 3), do not let it boil. It should only froth on the top. Over boiling will spoil its taste.
- Also in step 3, keep the flame low. It should be simmered.