Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tengapal Rasam – Watery Soup with Coconut Milk

TENGAPAL RASAM – Watery Soup with Coconut Milk
Rasam is an indispensable dish in the south Indian families. Many would have savoured the delicious rasams prepared in eeya chombu . The eeya chombu is a pot made of lead. Some say it is made of tin. My brother says it is an alloy**! Eeya chombus were an integral part of a bride’s trousseau. Ladies would treasure these vessels, and pass them on through generations like family heirloom! Rasam was typically prepared in these eeya chombus using the kumti which is small iron choolha that uses charcoal fire. One should know the technique and be careful while making rasam in an eeya chombu. It is not unusual (and very expensive!) to find new comers melting the rasam pot over their gas stove! If the pot is left on the fire unattended, it can simply melt in no time!

We hear a lot about lead poisoning and other metal toxins in recent times. But it is amazing to see the old people who used to eat food cooked in brass vessels plated with kalai or lead are still leading a healthy life. The use of brass and lead vessels have certainly declined after the advent of ever silver steel vessels. These in turn have become less popular after the nonstick items and glass vessels invaded the market. With all this evolution or revolution, I still have relatives who insist on having eeya chombu rasam.
Eeya chombu or not, here is a rasam with the unique flavour of coconut milk which will surely entice any rasam lover.
Three extracts of coconut milk from 2 cups of freshly grated coconut as described below.
Freshly ground rasam powder - as given below
Tur dal (Red Gram Dal)- ½ cup
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Tamarind – 1 small lime sized ball
Salt – 1 ½ tsp
Curry leaves – a few.
Tomato – 1 big
Coriander leaves – a few
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Method to extract coconut milk:
a) Use 2 cups of freshly grated. Grind the fresh coconut gratings in as little water as smooth as possible. Use a strainer and squeeze the mixture to extract the milk. This is first and thickest extract.
b) Add more water and grind the coconut again and extract milk the second time. Keep this more dilute second extract separately.
c) Follow the same process and extract milk the third time, this will be really dilute with hardly any coconut milk left, but this will come into use as well.
For the Rasam Powder
Cooking oil – 1/4tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dal – 2 tsp
Red chillies – 6
Pepper – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds -1 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Method for Rasam Powder
1.Dry roast, pepper and cumin seeds.
2. Roast the rest of the ingredients in a drop of oil.
3. Make a smooth powder with all the roasted ingredients.
1. Soak tamarind in water and leave it aside.
2. Pressure cook tur dal with a pinch of turmeric powder and water.
3. Extract the juice of tamarind.
4. Add the most dilute or the third extract of coconut milk to the tamarind juice.
5. Add salt and the rasam powder and boil until the raw smell disappears.
6. Add cooked dal, curry leaves and the second extract of coconut milk and boil vigorously.
7. Add chopped tomatoes.(Optional)
8. Finally, add the thickest or the first extract of coconut milk and decrease heat.
9. Add finely chopped coriander leaves and wait till the rasam foams.
10. Switch off flame before it starts boiling.
11. Season mustard seeds in a spoon of ghee.
Relish the coconut milk aroma as you slurp it down with hot rice.
Note: A thumb rule for tasty rasam is that it should never be boiled, as it spoils the flavours. It should be switched off, just as it foams rises to the top of the vessel, quite similar to milk. A tight lid should be used to immediately cover the rasam, to seal in the flavours.

This image below shows a long unused eeya chombu ; a kumti, which we took out from mothers attic, to take a photo for this post. As you can see my nephews even started a small fire in the kumti! We did not actually cook using these vessels, since they have been unused for a very long time! My sister-in-law still actively uses her eeya chombu, and has sent in the photo shown above in the recipe.
** Disclaimer: The authors of this site do not claim knowing about the metallic composition of eeya chombus, and neither the impact of using eeya chombus on health! A google search on eeya chombus reveals many aruguments on what is the metallic composition of eeya chombus! Some say its lead, some say its tin, others say it an alloy. One view says it was originally tin, but unscrupulous manufacturers sold pots adultrated with lead for several years, and therefore a common and wrong notion that it is lead!

19 Post your Comments:

Srivalli said...

what a wonderful dish..never heard of this..thanks for sharing!

YOSEE said...

Hmmmm ! Fantasising about the eeya chombu flavour, with a whiff of charcoalsmoke from the kumuti ! ! Longtime since i used coconut milk in anything, must try this one soon. ( Its true that EEyam in Tamil means Lead but there's a Kaar-eeyam and vel-eeyam .the latter, i feel, may be a tin alloy, used in "Kalaai" or tinning of brass vessels of olden days.)

Uma said...

Ooh the rasam looks lovely! I heard the rasam made in such kind of bowl taste great! Not sure about the problems with it!

Sangeeth said...

This is new to me..thanks for sharing

Dibs said...

Yes Srivalli, its a really tasty dish!

Yosee - all kinds of eeyams and dont know what eeya chombu is really made of :-)!

Uma - this rasam tastes great made in any type of vessel!

Sangeeth - welcome!

Lakshmi said...

I want to go home and make this rasam :) it looks soo tempting! Thanks for sharing :) I agree that our grandparents lead a healthy life despite cooking in such chombus.

Mrs.Kannan said...

I never heard of thegapal rasam,but it looks yummyy.

jayasree said...

I still make rasam in eeyam chombu. Unmatchable taste.... Coconut milk in rasam is new to me. Shall try it soon.

Unknown said...

Wow this rasam sounds fantastic...have never tried making rasam with thengapal in it...although I can attest to the delicious taste of rasam made in eeya tastes awesome...

Finla said...

I have enver had reasam like this.
Looks so beautiful and delicious

Indian Khana said...

I never heard rasam with tengapal..thts really new to me...and eeya chombu...after a long time I'm seeing friend's mom use to prepare rasam in chombu too..

Dibs said...

lakshmi, Mrs Kannan, Jayasree, Happy Cook and Preethi,

Thanks for your comments! This rasam rocks! Do try it out!

jeevagv said...

Very interesting!

Jayashree said...

I'd love to try this rasam out. I can almost imagine how it will taste with coconut milk in it. I make rasam in a eeya chombu - passed on to me by my mother :-))

Shreya said...

I have never had tenga pal rasam. Looks really interesting, and love the idea. Will try this, though not on the traditional eeya chombu!

Dibs said...

Jeeva - Thanks :-)

Jayashree - How nice! :-)

Shreya - Do try it out and tell us how it was!

Dibs said...

i really enjoyed this rasam. appa

Unknown said...

wow.. really awesome... coconut rasam new for me.. still my mom used eeya shombu.. thxs for sharing...

Radha said...

This is an amazing post. Thank you for the warning on the eeya chombu. I am trying out our parambariya samaiyal but I've gotten into many problems because there are many warnings and tips not mentioned in articles and books.