I always talk of my mother-in-law's cooking (who is probably a better cook than my mom!) and neglect my mom on this blog. And that is only because she's hardly cooked over the years. My grandmother was an orthodox woman who ate only what she herself cooked and so, my mom never got to cook 'her' food. There were days when my grandmother fasted and we feasted on either non South Indian cuisine or some 'hatke' South Indian cuisine. Like this Rasam.
Rasam was a staple in my house. Like, am sure, many other South Indian households. However, my grandmother was a Tamilian settled in Karnataka for ages and had adapted the Kannada style of cooking very well. She always made what is popularly known as the Mysore Rasam. It wasn't a delicacy or a specialty in my house. It was regular. So, I initially hated Rasam. Its only lately that I've fallen in love with Rasam and acknowledge its therapeutic properties. When my granny took a break, and my mom cooked, the Rasams she made were Milagu Rasam, Jeera Rasam and Lemon Rasam. Never Mysore Rasam. So, these Rasams were special meals for us :) Now, for A and me, Lemon Rasam is a staple if we cook South Indian food. I love citrusy flavours and A loves traditional South Indian food. So there, this clicked! Every single time that we've entertained with South Indian food, I've made this Rasam and have received only compliments! Frankly, I'm not a great cook. Actually, I never cooked thanks to my grandmother's rules. But with this Rasam, I'm a natural! I called my mom once for the recipe, and since then, this recipe rules, and works out fantastically well every time I make it. Now, enough has been said! Here is the recipe.
1 cup Toor Dal or Pigeon Peas - cooked to a pulp in the pressure cooker or microwave
1 large Lemon
1 Tomato, chopped into chunks
2-3 tbsp ginger chopped, finely. I add more than this, usually ;) (If you don't like ginger, you can remove them later, but DON'T skip the ginger!)
1tbsp Jeera or Cumin
2 tsp turmeric powder
3-5 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ghee
1-2 cups water
A handful of coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1. Cook the Dal or the pigeon peas until mushy.
2. Fry the Jeera/cumin seeds in the ghee. Add the chillies, ginger and the cooked Dal and let it bubble away.
3. Add water to thin the Dal out. You can add as much water as you want to make the Rasam as watery as you want. I like it watery!
4. Add the tomatoes, turmeric and salt, and let the mixture simmer until it comes to a boil. Add more turmeric if this doesn't give you a nice bright yellow colour.
5. Turn off the gas, let it rest for a minute or so, squeeze the juice of one full large lemon into the Rasam. Adjust the lemon juice per your desire for tanginess. I like it tangy :)
6. Add the chopped coriander and serve hot with some rice!
My mom was super smart about leftover Lemon Rasam too. She added onions and thickened the leftovers (they hardly need any thickening coz the liquid part is usually the first to be consumed!) to make Dal for Roti the next day. Since Roti-Dal was quite North Indian for us, that was a treat too!
This recipe goes out to MLLA, hosted by Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska and conceptualized by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. and to the Lentil Mela hosted by Ashwini.
Back in India, we drink/eat soup only when we dine out. I don't want to generalize this, but even the concept of a 'three course meal' is quite different than what is perceived here in the U.S. For a lot of Indians, a three course meal consists of three entrees and eating one entree with rice or roti comprises one 'course' ;) Of course, yoghurt or curd (that is the more common term used in India again :) could also be considered as an entree. Rasam in many ways is our soup. So, this one goes out to Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen, the brain and host of No Croutons Required. Literally, in this case ;) Or, or, or, you can dunk some papad in the Rasam like A does, always and slurp them up. There you go, you can have the croutons and eat it too!
But then, this post really goes out to Amma. My Amma. Like I said, I've always neglected to acknowledge my mom. I've fought with her, still fight like crazy with her and disappoint her all the time. However, there have been very few instances that she's disappointed me, and its hardly been a disappointment as I learn now, years later, sitting away from her. She's changed too. She understands me, my feminism, my activism better now, and I appreciate her for that. It takes courage and a lot of love to do this and Amma, thank you for that.
Now Amma, I wish you'd stop asking me to eat well and exercise well. Just eat well will do ;)
P.S. - We are seriously working on our pictures. With lights, angles, background etc etc! Unfortunately, we chose to showcase Rasam in a steel utensil this time. LOL! So, we'd LOVE direct and honest feedback on our pictures going forward. Hey, suggestions and tips will do too! For some entertainment, see how nimble the man is, standing on a chair taking a pic of the Rasam on top of a chair on top of the table :D