Rasam is a house-hold dish in most of the south indian homes. Not all restaurants serve this unique speciality; so if you want to taste an authentic one, you'll have to head to one of these houses. There are a lots of varieties of rasam, and varies with each and every district. Loosely translated, rasam is often known as a soup, that is eaten with rice or drank as an appetizer.
Reminds of a story that my grandma used to tell me.. "Once there was this King who wanted to appoint a "sapattu raman" (one who tests and tastes the dishes before the king can have it). He announced a feast where everyone in the village can eat, but noone should make any "slurping" sound when the rasam is served, or else they'll be beheaded! Ok, now all our villagers are happily enjoying the feast; but when the rasam came, much to the temptation of the people, it was fantastically tasty. But none could make the usual slurping sound and were terribly suppressing their desire. But one man started off slurping and and drinking the rasam straight out of his hand, saying "Never tasted such a rasam in my life! What the hell! They can behead me only once. I am glad to die after eating this fantastic rasam!!" Needless to say, he became the Kings' Saapattu Raman." :)
Rasam tastes best when prepared in an "Eeya sombu" or a lead vessel. This vessel is usually handed-down over generations. But nowadays, people consider it not good for health because of the fear of lead melting down during cooking. Can somebody let me know if this is true? Because of this fear, even my "eeya sombu" is resting in the attic. Albeit all these arguments, nothing can win over the rasam prepared in that vessel.
Now you know how much I like rasam, over to our recipe. This Lemon rasam has lot of medicinal value. It is usually prepared on rainy days, when children come with running noses and flu! It is also a kind of "pathiya samayal" or the "food as medicine".
Lemon rasam / Yelumichai rasam
South Indian dal soup flavored with ginger and lemon
What we need:
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 2" inches, grated
Lemon juice - 5 to 6 spoons
Tomato, small - 1, finely chopped
Green Chillies - 1 or 2, split vertically
Turmeric powder -1 tsp.
Salt - as needed
Water - as needed
Ghee - 1 tbsp.
Mustard - 1 tbsp.
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.
Asafetida - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - 2 to 3 sprigs
How to do:
1. Cook and mash the dal well.
2. In a deep bottomed pan, heat the ghee and add the mustard seeds.
3. When they start to pop, add the cumin seeds, turmeric powder, curry leaves and asafetida.
4. Add the grated ginger, green chillies and tomato.
5. When the tomato is cooked, add the mashed dal, salt and water.
6. Allow it to come to a boil and remove from flame.
7. Add the lemon juice and stir well.
Method 2: (For those like my hubby who don't like picking out the ginger, curry leaves)
1. In a mixer/blender, grind together ginger, curry leaves, green chillies, turmeric powder.
2. In a deep bottomed vessel, boil tomatoes till done and add the ground paste. Let it come to a boil and add the mashed dal. Let it come to one more boil (or till a slight foam forms) and remove from flame.
3. In a small pan, heat ghee or oil and add the mustard, cumin seeds, asafetida and add this to the rasam.
4. Stir the lemon juice.
Serve with rice and appalam or drink it as a refreshing appetizer.
Watch out for different varieties of Rasam, coming soon!!