Monday, August 18, 2008
Go Pearl Diving at Home with...
POONDU RASAM or GARLIC SOUP
Rasam is a flavourful watery soup served with rice as a second course in a South Indian meal, the first being the Sambar and rice. Once rasam is made, the heavier dals and spices settle down at the bottom of the vessel, leaving the nutrient rich and flavourful watery liquid at the top. This liquid is light, and excellent for digestion. Both the light liquid, a well as the rich dal residue can be taken with rice based on preferences.
In South Indian weddings more and more people are opting for at least one buffet meal, instead of the traditional meal served on banana leaves. For a long time rasam was not served in buffets as it was impossible to handle the watery dish in a hand-held dinner plate filled with various other dishes. Gauging people’s taste and demand the caterers have now a days started to include rasam-rice in their menu.
The unanimous choice of mothers whose babies have just been introduced to solids is the one and only rasam rice. A few spoons of softly cooked rice and dal mashed well with rasam and a drop of ghee is relished by most babies. My siblings and I have grown up solely on rasam rice almost up to the age of ten.
My three children were especially fond of Poondu Rasam or Garlic Rasam. The cloves of garlic in the rasam will settle down at the bottom of the vessel. The scene of my three children, each with a ladle in hand, competing as to who should ‘pearl-dive’ first to get the ‘pearls’ or the garlic cloves from the bottom of the rasam vessel is still fresh in my memory.
Ingredients for the spicy rasam powder:Pepper _ 2 tsps
Cumin seeds – 2 tsps
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal – 1 tbsp
Dry red chillies – 4
Methi (Fenugreek seeds) – ¼ tsp
Pressure cook tur dal with turmeric powder in 3 cups of water.
Method for spicy rasam powder:
1. Dry roast pepper and cumin seeds and keep aside.
2. In a drop of oil, roast asafoetida, coriander seeds, bengal gram dal, fenugreek seeds and red chillies until they become crisp and golden in colour.
3. Powder all the roasted ingredients and keep aside. This is freshly prepared spicy rasam powder. While more quantities can be made and stored in air tight containers, rasam tastes best with freshly ground spices.
Ingredients for Garlic Rasam
Tur dal (Red gram dal) – 1 cup
Turmeric powder -1 pinch
Tamarind – enough to make a lime-sized ball
Salt -2 tsps
Garlic – cloves from three big pods
Curry leaves –a few
Ghee -1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Coriander leaves – a few
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Method for Garlic Rasam:
1. Pressure cook tur dal with turmeric powder in 3 cups of water, and keep aside.
2. Extract the juice out of the tamarind and add water to make ½ a pint and add salt.
3. Peel the skin of the garlic cloves. Add to the tamarind water, and boil until they are cooked.
4. Add cooked dal , chopped tomatoes, and curry leaves.
5. Add little water to the spicy rasam powder and make a paste, and then add it to the rasam.
6. Stir and blend well until it starts to boil.
7. Add ½ more pint of water and decrease heat.
8. Add coriander leaves and allow the rasam to gather lots of bubbles on the top.
9. Note: Remove rasam from flame just before it starts to boil, as boiling mars the flavour.
10. Heat ghee and add mustard seeds and pour it on to the rasam after it splutters.
Enjoy the watery top portion of the rasam in a glass as an appetizer or relish the thick spicy dal and garlic residue with steaming hot rice topped with a spoon of ghee.