Friday, May 3, 2024

Rasam Variations: Unique Twists on a Classic Dish

Step into the world of Rasam, also known as Indian Pepper Soup, where every sip is worthy for the taste buds. It's a dish we adore, so much so that Rasam could easily become a daily ritual, perfectly complementing any meal. Packed with spices that work wonders for our well-being, this soup isn't just delicious - it's a health boost in a bowl.

In my kitchen, Rasam is a staple, and I always make a generous batch. Once cooked, I portion it out into containers and pop them in the freezer for later. Surprisingly, freezing Rasam doesn't compromise its flavors or nutrients. Back in the day, when fridges were a luxury, Rasam was left out to age gracefully, its robust spices preserving it for days.

But modern living brings its own challenges. No matter how tightly we seal our homes, dust and pollution find their way in, reminding us of the world beyond our walls. Yet, amidst this chaos, Rasam remains a comforting constant, offering solace in a bowl.

Now, let's explore the delightful world of Rasam varieties, starting with the instant version. Thanks to a plethora of store-bought Rasam powders flooding the market, whipping up this flavorful soup has never been easier. Brands from India have made their mark worldwide, offering convenience without compromising on taste.

As a fervent fan of instant Rasam powders, I've sampled a fair share of brands, each a winner in its own right. So, let's embrace the convenience they offer, leaving behind any outdated notions about store-bought versus homemade. After all, in the kitchen, it's the end result that truly matters.

Oh, it's crucial to note when making rasam - avoid boiling it. Instead, gently simmer. Boiling or over-boiling can deplete the nutrients of the spices. When reheating, remember to be mindful of this as well.

Let's kick off our cooking with a quick and easy recipe: 

Instant Rasam 
Made from store-bought Rasam powder. Don't let the shortcut fool you - this version retains all the quintessential flavors you love in Rasam, from the peppery kick to the tangy zest, and the aromatic spices that make it truly irresistible.


Instant Rasam 
Ingredients 
6 shallots, smashed 
8 garlic cloves, smashed 
Dried chilies, to taste 
Curry leaves, to taste 
1 tsp black mustard seeds 
Store-bought rasam powder, to taste (refer to packet for recommended amount) 
1 large tomato, chopped 
Tamarind juice, to taste 
2 tbsp oil 
Salt, to taste

Method 
Heat oil in a pan. 
Add smashed shallots, garlic, dried chilies, black mustard seeds, and curry leaves. 
Saute until fragrant.
Mix in chopped tomato and rasam powder, ensuring all ingredients are well combined. 
Pour water into the pan.
Season with salt and tamarind juice according to taste. 
Simmer the rasam mixture, being careful not to boil. 
Once simmered, the Instant Rasam is ready to serve. 

Pepper Garlic Rasam

Have you ever pondered the secret behind the exceptional flavor of Pepper Garlic Rasam? Allow me to enlighten you - this delightful concoction is my very own creation. Isn't that just incredible? This rasam is a dream come true for garlic aficionados, as it features an abundance of garlic and white lentils/ulundu/urad dal for tempering.

 

To elevate its aromatic essence, a fusion of curry leaves, coriander leaves, and spring onions is incorporated. What sets this recipe apart is that it is crafted entirely from scratch, adding to its irresistible charm. Moreover, unlike traditional rasam recipes, this version skips the use of tomatoes, yet loses none of its essence.


Pepper Garlic Rasam 
Ingredients

1/2 tbsp black pepper seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

15 garlic cloves

Tamarind juice, as needed

 

For tempering

2 sprigs curry leaves

2 sprigs coriander leaves, thinly sliced

2 sprigs spring onions, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp white ulundu (urad dhal)

1 tbsp oil

 

Method

Roughly pound black pepper, cumin, and garlic.

In a pot, combine pounded ingredients with 1 litre of water.

Add tamarind juice and season with salt.

Simmer the mixture just until heated through.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate pan and quickly fry the tempering ingredients.

Pour the tempering into the rasam.
Stir and remove from heat.


Home Made Rasam Powder/Podi 
For those who prefer crafting their own rasam powder, here's my late mum's cherished recipe. This unique blend, unlike store-bought alternatives, offers a distinct flavor profile that's truly unmatched. Feel free to adjust the remaining ingredients and cooking techniques to your preference.

Home Made Rasam Powder/Podi 
Ingredients 
1 tbsp bengal gram (kadalai paruppu) 
1 tbsp yellow lentils (yellow dhal) 
1/2 tbsp black pepper 
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds 
3 sprigs curry leaves

Method 
Dry roast the ingredients until they turn light brown and release their aroma (about 3-4 mins). 
Avoid over-roasting, as it may result in bitterness.
Once cooled, blend or process the ingredients into a fine powder. 
Store the homemade rasam powder in an airtight container for future use.

How much rasam powder to use? It's up to your discretion, depending on the quantity of rasam you're preparing and your desired taste preferences. Adjust accordingly for a delightful homemade rasam experience.


Ghee Rasam 
It's time to unveil my very own creation: Ghee Rasam. Yes, you heard it right - my mind's creation! But have you ever imagined incorporating ghee into rasam? Alongside the aromatic medley of curry leaves, coriander leaves, and spring onions, I've infused this rasam with a twist: white lentils (white ulunthu or urad dal).

Ghee Rasam 
1/2 tbsp black pepper seeds 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
8 garlic cloves 
Tamarind juice, as needed

For tempering 
2 sprigs curry leaves 
2 sprigs coriander leaves, thinly sliced 
2 sprigs spring onions, thinly sliced 
1/2 tsp white ulundu (urad dhal) 
1 tbsp ghee

Method 
Roughly pound the black pepper, cumin, and garlic. 
Place them in a pot with 1 liter of water. 
Add tamarind juice and season with salt. 
Simmer the mixture, just until heated through. 
Meanwhile, quickly fry the tempering ingredients. 
Transfer the tempering into the rasam. 
Stir and remove from heat.


Pineapple Rasam 
When preparing pineapple rasam, you can choose between fresh pineapple or canned pineapples (ensure to drain off the juice). 
However, be cautious of the sourness if you intend to add tamarind juice as well. 
Blend, pulse, or process the pineapple until smooth, then incorporate it into the rasam towards the end of cooking, or along with the water.

Yogurt/Mor Rasam 
Did you know you can substitute yogurt for tamarind juice in rasam? 
Just whisk the yogurt until smooth, then add it after cooking the rasam. 
Pour it in gradually while stirring to prevent curdling.

For an alternative take on yogurt rasam, I have thoughtfully included a cooking video that you can also view on our YouTube Channel, where you'll find a plethora of other enticing recipes to explore as well.



Lentil/Paruppu Rasam

How about enriching your rasam with a handful or two of lentils? It's truly spectacular! Here are two ways to do it: Firstly, simmer the lentils separately until softened, then add them to the rasam after switching off the heat. Alternatively, opt for masoor lentils, which only require rinsing and not soaking, and will quickly soften. Add them while simmering the rasam.


Whichever method you choose, you can even mash the lentils with a spatula to thicken the rasam. Also, instead of using dried red chilies, which is typical, you can opt for green chilies. 


Egg Rasam 
Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? 
Crack eggs into the simmering rasam and avoid stirring once they're inside. 
If you prefer the yolk to be soft and wobbly, use your discretion in timing before adding them. Alternatively, you can crack the eggs in after pouring water and as the rasam is heating through.

As evident from the first photo, rasam shines brightly when paired with mashed spinach, masala fish, and grilled tofu with curry leaves. Moving on to the image below, we have a delightful vegetarian thali set that I put together on one of my cooking therapy days - featuring rasam alongside spinach tofu, pumpkin stir-fry, beans coconut stir-fry, and cumin cabbage stir-fry. Completing the ensemble are yogurt, fried chilies in yogurt/mor, ghee, and mango pickle.


Doesn't this spread emphasize the fact that rasam is indeed a star attraction that elevates the entire meal when enjoyed alongside a variety of delectable dishes?

 

 

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