Tuesday, January 12, 2010


With fever, cold, sore throat, cough and seemingly infected paranasal sinuses - when the usual illnesses have decided to go the whole nine yards, the stuff you choose to see around you changes a little bit. I realise after 3 years of being away from home, that I am not at home. Not in Chennai. I live in a far away land. And it cannot be mom who does the magic.

It is me who has to double up as is required. And so, I go back to my recipes label and pick out Painless Rasam.

I have had a tumultuous affair with rasam. So to say. I never did like it, once upon a time. And once upon a little time later, I was in love with it. And now, I do not have any strong feelings towards it. Except when the hot ghee and the spluttered mustard and jeera come in contact with the almost made rasam. At that instance, when the rasam is made, I am forever in love with the aroma. My tastebuds itching for some rasam saadham (rasam rice) and urulaikazhangu fry (the potato roast here).

It is the one thing that can comfort, where all else fails. And when you are ill, the urulakazhangu is not needed anymore. Just the rasam and nicely cooked rice will do. *Nicely* cooked (= easily mashable) wasn't how my microwave cooked rice is. Sad. But cooked.

So... many room-mates ago, I learnt a new way of making rasam. The Andhra style, or so my then-roomie said. I am tempted to call it the painless rasam, because, it is as effort-free a dish can be. Made it when I was sick-and-miles-away-from-mom for the first time. And it has been thus for every sick roomie and the self thus far.

2 table spoons of jeera (cumin) powder
2 table spoons of pepper powder (If you have a little extra pain tolerance, you can freshly dry roast and grind jeera and pepper - there is MUCH difference!)
Salt to taste
2 large tomatoes
1/2 spoon
tamarind paste - I used original tamarind today - the standard lemon sized ball soaked in hot water and squeezed out
1/4 teaspoon dhaniya (coriander) powder
1/2 spoon mom-made rasam powder (guessing any readymade brand should be fine)
Mix all these in the vessel in which you make your rasam. Leave it aside for an hour. Not on the stove yet.
After the passing of the hour, put the vessel on the stove and bring to a boil. Then simmer.

Heat ghee in a "thaalippu karandi" and splutter some jeera and mustard. Then a bunch of curry leaves. If you are fond of garlic, add a few mid-sized cloves which you have smashed and peeled, and let it roast in the ghee. Add a little pinch of asafoetida (hing). Add this to the simmering rasam. And give in to the pleasure of the making-life-worth-living aroma. And if you can wait longer, add a bunch of chopped coriander leaves too.

This mixed with rice, you are now ready to get all your clogged plumbing opened up!

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