Thursday, 12 April 2012

Tomato Rasam (Spicy South Indian Tomato Soup)

During our visit to India last year,  we had been to Kumarakom house boat which was an amazing experience.  We had great relishing meal prepared by the on-board crews and rasam was one of them. Rasam is a South Indian watery soup and varies slightly from region to region. There are several types of them like tomato rasam, lentil rasam and pepper rasam to name a few. Some uses dal/lentil to thicken the soup, but I haven’t used it mainly because I wanted to keep it simple, watery, and I was too lazy to cook dal and mash it.  I have used the spices as mentioned in the little book that own, but you really can get instant rasam powders from supermarkets these days. I dont think you really need to get all those readymade stuffs. It is not that tricky to make it home and i found it quite easy and instant.

The other day I was preparing lunch and all of a sudden I got this craving for  rasam that I had from the houseboat. Thanks to the social Networks, I got hold of my dear friends Nisha Rosh and Dhanya KP instantly, who approximately gave me their recipe. My tomato rasam is a result of their recipe and valuable tips combined with another recipe from my favourite book Lalitha Pachakam by Nikhila Govind. I normally mix and match few recipes to make something. I am not sure if I am doing the right thing but I have always been like that. Thanks you guys for the recipe and tips; it was simple, fuss free, delicious, and just the way I wanted it to be. A thin tomato soup with tantalising aroma and flavour with a note of heat from the crushed pepper was the result. Just perfect for a cold afternoon.

Tomato Rasam (Spicy South Indian Tomato Soup)
serves 4-6

4 medium/350g/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp tamarind
¼ cup hot water
salt as necessary
A handful of coriander leaves with stem on

To temper:
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
6 shallots
5 fat cloves of garlic
2 twig curry leaves
¼ - 1/2 tsp asafoetida
¼ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp pepper corns
4 dried red chillies

1. Boil tomatoes in water for about 10 minutes until it is soft and cooked. Pass it through a sieve and squeeze all possible pulp out. Reserve the strained liquid and discard the seeds and skin in the sieve.

2. Mix tamarind in hot water and squeeze to loosen its tough pulp. Pass it through a sieve again and pour it into the strained tomato juice.

3. Pour the tomato and tamarind mixture into the tempered oil or viceversa. Add in coriander leaves with stalks, salt and cook until it starts to boil.

4. Just before serving discard the corinader leaves and have it before your regular meal or pour it into plain rice along with dal and sambhar.

To temper:
1.Using a pestle and mortar gently crush the garlic and shallots just to break them up.  Keep it a side.

2. In a dry pan roast cumin and pepper for about 30 secods or until they leave aroma. Pound them to fine powder.

3. Heat a pan and add oil. Add in mustard and cumin and let them crackle. Once they start crackling, add red chillies broken into two, curry leaves, onion and garlic. Once they go soft and trasnparent, add in roasted and ground cumin and pepper, asafoetida, turmeric and stir for few seconds.

Even though it mentioned gently crushed garlic and onion, I finely chopped garlic and shallots in the recipe and I dint like the feel of chopped onions. I would be using gently crushed garlic and shallots next time.
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