Every family will have its own recipe for the spice blend used in this flavourful dish, which is eaten with rice or sipped to savour every mouthful. But tradition is only the base – unconventional ingredients can make rasam a new dish altogether, taking it from the realm of the familiar to something completely new and therapeutic.
Yes! It is therapeutic too. It’s considered to be a cure-all, good for everything from a cold to a tummy upset to unrequited love. Traditionally, it is made with a tamarind water base, with thin dal (or dal water), tomatoes or other vegetables and spices. Adding Chillies, pepper, cumin, salt and occasionally ginger makes the rasam flavourful and healthy.
Add ginger and your tummy ache will be cured; a touch of lemon helps with that persistent cold and black pepper will quickly quell that itch in the back of your throat. These and many other. Want to know what are these variations are? We have listed them for you…read to know more.
1) Poondu Rasam – crushed garlic is sautéed in ghee on a low flame before the tamarind water is added. This rasam is supposed to be the best cure for a cold, like chicken soup!
2) Inji rasam – Inji aka ginger is grated or crushed and sautéed on low heat in ghee before tamarind water is added. This is especially good for a cough or a sore throat.
3) Lemon Rasam – lemon juice is added after the rasam is cooked. This tangy version is drunk to soothe an upset tummy.
4) Tomato Rasam – is ideal when eaten with very soft cooked rice and papad.
5) Black Pepper Rasam – the British adapted the recipe to make the famous Mulligatawny soup, the name derived from milagu thanni, or pepper water.
6) Nellikai Rasam – uses the sour tang of Indian gooseberry or amla to add interest to the base recipe. Rich in Vitamin C, this version will keep a cold at bay.
7) Neem Flower Rasam – the neem flowers will have slightly bitter taste, but the health-giving properties are amazing. This recipe is good for digestive health.
8) Pineapple Rasam – this version is sweet-sour and best drunk warm rather than being mixed with rice.
9) Kollu Rasam – Kollu aka horse gram is supposed to be good for reducing blood sugar; it also contains high levels of antioxidants.
10) Kozhi or Chicken rasam – the chicken is cooked in the spicy rasam to absorb all its delicious flavour. While purists will not approve, since rasam is traditionally vegetarian, this is certainly a delectable treat!
Stay tuned for more exotic versions of the food you know and love: Unusual recipes for your favourite rainy season snack: pakoras!
Tell us about your favourite rasam recipe!