Update: See previous post to read why the bowl might have cracked.
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: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...
- 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
- 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.