Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tomato Rasam/chaaru

Update: See previous post to read why the bowl might have cracked.
Dear foodies,

Every meal at home consisted of a vegetable side dish which was steam cooked/stir fried/chutney and then a lentil-based dish like sambar/kootu/pappu(dal) and then a light rasam/chaaru and it finally ended with some curd/buttermilk. There would then be variations of this menu based on the vegetables available and our moods, but the underlying pattern would remain. You need vegetables for your vitamins and nutrients, lentils for your proteins and, rice for carbs.

For instance, when my mom makes majjiga pulusu, it will either have lentil dumplings in it or would be paired with usili to balance out the absence of lentil. Similarly if we were having a tamarind based pulusu it would have a kandipappu oorpindi for company and a mysore chaaru, which has relatively more dal than your usual chaaru, would be paired with simple stir fries without additional sambar. If eaten right, you end up having a lot more vegetables than rice. The combinations like this are just endless.... isn't this a smart way of having a balanced meal every single day. Almost all combo's go by a similar mantra, well almost, I cannot place this into one :D

During my mom's stay here she cooked like this every single day, and had it all done by 7:30am so I could pack my lunch!! While I would make any ONE dish from the entire spread and call it a meal by itself!

Rasam/chaaru has been an integral part of the meal, it also shares the title for 'a comforting meal' with a few others. Rasam usually has a souring ingredient as its base which is then flavored with some dal water and spices, mainly pepper and coriander seed. It aids in digestion and a cup of warm rasam is super comforting when the weather is cold or if you are hit by cold/fever. The sourness for the rasam can come from tomatoes, tamarind, lime juice or mangoes. I have also seen recipes with pomegranate, pineapple and kokum as their base, though we never used them at home. The dal water needed for the rasam is the water in which the toor dal is boiled. The cooked toor dal is mashed and as the dal settles to the bottom, the lightly flavored water on the top is ladled out to make the rasam and the remaining dal is used in sambar or pappu.


Here is a recipe that uses mainly tomatoes and a hint of tamarind
Ingredients:
  • 2-3 nos- ripe tomatoes, medium sized
  • 2 cups - dal water
  • 1 Tbsp - rasam powder (recipe coming up)
  • pulp from a marble sized tamarind ball
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4-6 coriander stalks with leaves, tied together with a twine or use just the leaves
  • 1 tsp ghee (recommended, if not, use oil)
  • a pinch of hing/asafoetida
  • 1 tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds (optional)
  • 2-3 curry leaves
Method:
  • Microwave 1 1/2 cup of water for a minute with the tamarind and extract the pulp (or use a tsp of tamarind extract). Wash and quarter the tomatoes.
  • Place a saucepan on medium heat and add the tamarind water, tomatoes, rasam powder, turmeric, salt and coriander leaves. Bring it to a boil and simmer until the raw smell of the rasam powder subsides and the tomatoes turn to a mush.
  • Mash the tomatoes with the back of your ladle or if you choose so, fish them out to another bowl, remove the skin, and mash them a little before adding them back to the rasam water
  • Now add the dal water and let it simmer, you will see a slight foam on top after a few minutes indicating that the rasam is ready. In the meanwhile get the tadka ready, heat the ghee and splutter the jeera, add the curry leaves and when the begin to crackle add the asafoetida, toss it into the rasam and cover with a lid until ready to serve.
  • Enjoy with warm rice or on it own in a glass.
The tadka for rasam in always in ghee and jeera, while for sambar its with oil and mustard seeds at my place. The coriander leaves are a must have for a good rasam. The pepper and coriander seeds in the rasam powder are sharp and soothing in their own way while the ghee mellows out the flavors and comforts your throat. The pepper rasam is coming up, but I'll bring you my mom's recipe for the rasam powder next...

12 thoughts:

SMN said...

Hey Priya tomato rasam looks yum with that murukku beside.

madteaparty said...

Yay - I make an authentic rasam it seems! Complete with the ghee tadka!

Priya said...


SMN,something crispy to go with the rasam is always yummm :D

Anita, okay, I say it too, you were a South Indian in your previous birth, appy :P

Poonam said...

Beautiful pic.

srinivasan said...

It is mouthwatering. I just can't resist seeing the photograph. It is awesome

bee said...

according to anita, batata vadas provide carbs, the gram flour on it provides protein, and the chillies inside are the veggies.

notyet100 said...

nice click,...nd nice post too,.rasam is my fav...

Manisha said...

Oooh! Bitter war between Anita and Bee on guest turf! Ooooh!

Post that rasam powder recipe soon! I need it!

And I was very happy to see no cracks on the plate. Phew!

Priya said...



Poonam, Srinivasan, thank you :)

Bee, we cannot argue with her on that now.
and me caught you 'comment-handed' on another blog praising a batata vada recipe you loved...Mu Ha ha Ha, the whole blog world is awaiting your post now :))

notyet100, mine too :)

Manisha, lets take the window seats,come come, with some popcorn
Will get a photo today and post the recipe by this weekend. That bowl goes to the family museum now :P

Chandrika said...

Priya, the meal mantra is the same at my home too...Loved the rasam..

Alpa said...

You take the most wonderful pictures, seriously. I would love to have your mom over... if you're ever in Texas :)

Priya said...


Chandrika, I need to see you back on your blog! Aren't our elders really smart, they fooled us into eating that way by calling them combo's :)

Alpa, thank you sooo much :) Its really nice to hear good words about my pics, I am constantly trying to do better so I can justify the hole in my bank accnt :D, and guess what, we are in Houston right now, my brother lives there. Unfortunately though, my parents are heading back this Sunday :(

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