Rasam which has a distinct sourness and spiciness is a side dish which is easily prepared to accompany plain white rice. The combination of spices and ingredients in rasam is enough to make the soup flavourful without using artificial flavouring . Not much effort in preparation is needed either. It is also possible to prepare rasam without using rasam powder which is a ready-made spice mixture.
As someone who loves Indian dishes, rasam is easily one of my top favourites. One may think that a vegetable based dish is bland and boring. This is where you are wrong. The first time I tasted rasam served together with banana leaf rice, I was immediately hooked. It definitely reminded me of the well known Thai soup, “tom yum” which is sour due to the added lime juice. Tamarind on the other hand is not only sour, it does not have the mild bitterness of that of the lime juice. That is like having the best of both worlds! However, besides being sour in similarity, rasam and 'tom yum' are both entirely different.
The core ingredient of rasam is tamarind which gives the distinctive sour taste that is significant to the dish. Other spices such as cumin, chilli powder and turmeric are added to further enhance its flavour.
While rasam may be just a side dish in a banana leaf rice meal, it can be turned into a wholesome meal as it is to be enjoyed. Here are some ideas and ingredients you may add to rasam to make it a more fulfilling dish.
Peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans are fantastic choices of ingredients to be added to rasam. Some of these ingredients such as lentils which are also sold in dried version can be found. Just as recommended in the dhal recipe, soak the dried legumes before adding them to rasam and then boil for at least 30 minutes or more for them to soften. Not only do legumes have a great nutritional profile, they are also very filling.
If you are someone who enjoys vegetables not only as salads, add them to rasam. Vegetables which are a great match for rasam are broccoli, brussels sproust, capsicums, carrots and even beetroot. Adding vegetables to rasam makes it naturally sweet compared to the typical rasam which is sour.
Another variation of rasam calls for protein to be added. Therefore, you may add some chicken, mutton or even fish. Besides that, chicken or mutton bones may be used to be simmered in rasam for a few hours. This will result in a more flavourful broth.
Rasam is also known as: South Indian Sour SoupChaaruSaaruKabir
Pound shallots and garlic. In a pot, heat up oil to sauté the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add mustard seeds and continue sautéing until they begin to pop. Then, add dried chillies and curry leaves. Sauté for another 30 seconds.
Add turmeric, cumin powder, fenugreek seeds and black pepper into the pot. Continue sautéing over low heat. Once the ingredients are fragrant, add chopped or pounded tomato.
Pour water into the pot and then add tamarind. Increase heat to allow rasam to boil. Once it boils, let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes have softened. Add salt to taste. Garnish with coriander before serving.
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