One of the best invitations into a South Indian home has to be the hot and spicy aroma of rasam.
As a child, a whiff of the intoxicating scent of rasam, wafting into my room from the kitchen, was all it took to make me happy.
The literal translation of Rasam in English is juice, and it refers to the juice from tomatoes. This South Indian staple, which boasts of medicinal properties, can be served as an appetizer, an entrée, a delicacy or even your favorite comfort food.
On a chilly winter day, a pleasant spring afternoon, as an answer to a midnight craving or an anti-depressant during this quarantine period, there truly is no perfect time for a sip of rasam.
It can be poured into a glass for a quick drink or served in a bowl for a more leisurely enjoyment of its signature sweet and tangy flavor. However, it is paired best with rice, ghee, and papad.
Growing up, I enjoyed eating rasam and rice with every meal. My mom always prepared the rasam fresh so it could be served piping hot as this is the best way to enjoy Indian meals.
I have many fond memories of taking this amazing meal to school for lunch. My grandmother would also insist on me eating rasam and rice when I struggled with a loss of appetite while recovering from an illness. It has now become a magic potion to fix just about anything – cough and cold, a headache, indigestion, a picky eater, or an unexpected guest.
Beyond that, it never fails to sate my hunger pangs, calm my mood swings, satisfy my craving for a taste of home, and soothe my wounds on a rough day. Rasam has also come to my rescue countless times when I found myself having to host an impromptu meal, contribute to a potluck or prepare something simple yet, nutritious and tasty. To say my relationship with rasam is special would be an understatement.
Rasam can be prepared in a multitude of ways, and a quick google search will give you many combinations. Each state in South India has its distinct way of making rasam; however, the unwritten rule is that you can always tweak the recipe to suit your taste buds.
I am sharing with you a simple Milagu Jeeram Rasam recipe, easy to prepare, and usually effective in dealing with a cough and cold.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, but this has worked as an excellent home remedy for many moons now.
RECIPE FOR MILAGU JEERAM RASAM
- 3 ripe tomatoes, cut into 4 halves.
- Ghee (Available in an Indian grocery store)
- Curry Leaves
- Asafetida (Available in an Indian grocery store)
- Mustard seeds
- Garlic pods
- A gooseberry sized ball of tamarind pulp soaked in warm water (The quantity can vary depending on how tangy you want it to be)
- A pinch of sugar
- Cilantro leaves
- Turmeric powder
- Soak the tamarind pulp in half a cup of warm water for around 30 minutes.
- Dry roast 2 tablespoons of cumin seeds and 2 tablespoons of whole black pepper to a coarse mixture along with the garlic pods.
- Heat a saucepan, add around 2 tablespoons of ghee. Temper it with mustard seeds, asafetida and curry leaves.
- Once the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté the tomatoes until they become soft. Add salt and turmeric powder.
- Strain the tamarind pulp, dilute it with some water and add it to the saucepan. To this, add the mixture of cumin, pepper, and garlic. Allow it to come to a boil. Once it has come to a boil, throw in a pinch of sugar.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves. Enjoy this divine preparation with steamed rice or savor it as an appetizer.
In these challenging times, a steaming hot bowl of Milagu Jeeram Rasam can go a long way in strengthening your immune system and soothing your nerves.
- *Ghee: Clarified butter
- *Papad: A thin, crisp, round flatbread made from peeled black gram flour, fried on low heat.
- *Milagu: Pepper
Words have always been my best friends, allowing me to find comfort and joy in playing the role of a copywriter, storyteller, poet or essayist, not necessarily in that order.
After moving to the United States in 2015, I have closely associated with Write Like You Mean It, a writer’s group at the Main Library, Charlotte.
My blog https://surabhiwritersmind.blogspot.com/ has links to my work published on several websites in India and the United States.
Apart from being a writer, I am also a book addict, love learning new languages, a compulsive baker, and a trained musician.
I love conducting writing workshops, binge-watching, or hiking when I am not writing.