This recipe and article was from issue 8 of the magazine from author- Nivedita Balu. As I sit here frezzing in chilly New York, all I really want is a bowl of this… it might be time to shut the computer down and get into the kitchen.
South India is a magical land. The isolated lands of South India, parted by the barriers of myriad linguistic process, are reminiscent to Mother Nature at its best. The aroma of the land comes truly with the smell of warming spices companied with juices of garlic and onion squeezed out with an age old mortar and pestle passed on from generations to generations.
In my memories as a child, warm evenings were marked with the smells of cumin, pepper and red chilli roasting in the kitchen, the smell of which triggered my nose and awakened my senses, as my great grandmother with all her strength crushed fresh onions and garlic preparing for a hot spicy rasam that would warm my hands, my throat and eventually my soul.
The thing about Indian cuisine is that it is not exactly a task, but to balance out the heat, the spice, the sour, the sweet and the salt is what makes it a skillful task. It didn’t come easy for me, it still takes me four sips of hot rasam to get the taste right. But for my grandmother, she had a blessed ‘pinch’ and a ‘dash’, it was always perfect!
The true story of ‘home’ is the warm breeze hitting my face and the hot bowl of rasam warming my hands and my grandmother/ great grandmother speaking about the neighbor’s daughter who married a stud or about the ceremony that was a blast at her friend’s home.
My memoirs of my childhood come attached with tasteful olfactory senses, of warmth and comfort.
- ½ onion
- 5-6 garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3-4 red chillies
- 1 stick Curry leaves
- Mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoon tamarind pulp
- 2 cups water drained from rice
- Dry roast the pepper, cumin and cumin, let cool and grind it up in a mortar and pestle.
- Crush the onion and garlic separately in a mortar and pestle. In a pan, with a teaspoon of oil fry the dry spices, onion and garlic.
- Fry for a couple of minutes and add the water drained from washed uncooked rice. The starch from the rice helps the rasam thicken slightly making it perfect for soup like consistency.
- Add the tamarind, salt, check for seasoning and let it boil for a minute.
- Temper with a teaspoon of oil, mustard seeds, dried chilly and curry leaves.