After a day long work and an hour drive it feels good to be home and spend some time with myself while waiting for the husband to return. As soon as I step in I rush to the kitchen to feed my growling stomach. I make a glass of milk and ransack the refrigerator and pantry hoping to find some snack or leftovers. As I do this my mind automatically starts thinking about our dinner which will be our next day’s lunch. And instantly I get reminded of my Mom. Unlike me, she prepares 3 meals a day and sometimes she will make an evening snack too. She has been doing this day after day, year after year and she has never complained once about it. This is a common thing in most of the Indian households.
My Ma’s weekly menu is very simple and some of them are repeated every week. Rasam was one of them. It is referred as Charu, Saaru or Pulichar in Telugu, Kananda and Sourashtra respectively. But I will call it as South Indian Hot and Sour Soup. There are so many variations to this soup and it can be made in umpteen ways with Tamarind and pepper as the base ingredient. Garlic Rasam, Tomato Rasam, Tamarind Rasam, Lentils Rasam, Pineapple Rasam, Lemon Rasam are some of the variants.
It is believed that Rasam helps to cleanse our palate and the mild spices like pepper and cumin eases our digestive system. In our home, we eat meat only on Sundays. So Ma thoughtfully makes rasam for our Monday lunch. They are also made as part of our festive meals and even on Sick days. This light yet flavorful clear soup is usually served with hot steamed rice and a vegetable as a side. There is chronological order in which it is served. A traditional South Indian meal begins with Sambar or Kuzhambu, then rasam and ends with Curd/yogurt rice. As far as I have seen everyone loves to drink a glass of Rasam before or after a meal.
Vasanth & I equally love to have Rasam on any given day. Though we are thousands of miles away from home we adhere to the tradition of having Rasam as part of our meal and it is an ultimate comfort food for us. The idea of using Cherries in Rasam was borrowed from one of my dearest friend Madhuri Kumar. She writes an awesome food blog called Cook-Curry Nook. She is chef, baker and a wonderful person at heart. She also conducts Baking workshops in Bangalore area. If you are interested in baking enroll in one of her workshops asap. You will thank me for that 😀 . Thanks Mads for this lip-smacking idea.
Now that I have made this comforting Rasam with Cherries, I would like to send this to the Summer Fest event hosted by Food Network. This is a bi-weekly event where a summer produce is chosen and the bloggers around the world share their recipes on their blogs.
How it tasted?
The very first morsel lets you experience the flavor explosion and you are beckoned by the aroma of seasoned spices, curry leaves, asafoetida, garlic and cilantro. This soup is tangy, spicy and mildly sweet enough that you crave for it again and again. When I made this first time, the husband literally drank a big bowl of this rasam apart from having it with hot piping rice. And I had to cook another meal for our lunch next day though I was happy that he liked it. You can serve this with rice and Asparagus Usili / Ennai Kathirikkai / Pavakai Fry or any of your favorite stir fry.
- Soak tamarind in 1 cup of water for 20-30 minutes. You can speed up the process by using hot water for soaking or by letting it cook in microwave for a minute or two.
- Wash Cherries. Remove the Cherry stem.Using a pairing knife make a cut in the center around the seed. Gently twist the cherries by holding it in two hands to separate the two halves. Now you will have the seed sticking to one half. Remove it gently using a knife or your hand. You can avoid all these hassle if you own a cherry pitter.
- In a blender/mixie add these cleaned cherries and roughly chopped tomatoes. Grind it to smooth paste. Ensure that no pulp remains. You might want to grind it for a minute or two.
- Grind pepper and cumin seeds to a fine powder in a pestle n mortar or a spice grinder. I have used pestle n mortar. I feel it gives a better flavor.
- Now extract the tamrind pulp by squishing and squeezing. Discard the tamarind flesh.
- In a sauce pan, add oil. When it is hot add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add cumin seeds, asafoetida, crushed/minced garlic and curry leaves.
- Immediately add tamarind water. You might want to use a strainer to remove any flesh or impurities.
- When it slightly starts boiling, add the cherry tomato paste.
- Then add pepper cumin powder, salt and red chili powder.
- When it is about to reach the boiling temperature add coarsely chopped coriander leaves and remove it from the stove. The trick of making good rasam is not over boiling it.
- Serve it as a soup or with hot piping rice. Notes
- Use 1 whole tomato and exclude cherries to make Tomato Rasam South Beach Diet adaptable:
- This is a Phase 2 recipe. You can serve this as a soup, with 1/2 cup of cooked basmati / brown rice and your choice of side(vegetable or meat) like this Asparagus Usili, Cabbage Poriyal or Indian style baked Chicken