Rasam and Sambar are the two most frequently prepared dishes in almost all Tamil households everyday and therefore it is better to stock up the kitchen pantry with the weeks supply of powder or the month supply of freshly roasted ground powder. Rasam and Sambar although prepared in all the Southern States , have their own distinctive ingredients, aroma, spices, blends making this quite unique to each state. Some have evolved by adaptations, trials in the kitchens, little bit of everything till a individual style is arrived at and thus becomes a personal recipe.
Rasam and Sambar recipes have become somewhat a mish mash , yet each having a special taste. Here am detailing simple recipes for rasam powder and the procedure to make a simple rasam daily.
I like to prepare freshly roasted and ground spice powders for both Rasam and Sambar on a weekly basis or sometimes once in a fortnight but never in bulk as the flavours and the aroma seems to lose their depth even if refrigerated.
Besides there is something exciting about roasting and grinding fresh spices in the kitchen as the aroma wafts all over the house and it sort of increases the appetite for food!
Many prefer store bought powders than the ones freshly ground at home as they feel intimidated by the ingredients , measurements but believe me , couple of times may be you need to cross check with your recipes but after two attempts, it is a lark. It is always a good idea to keep pinned certain measurements for spice powders in the kitchen cabinets as ready reckon-er instead of searching for the recipe books or browsing around the net .
2 Cups whole red dry chillis, small round ones.
1 cup coriander seeds
1/2 cup toor dal
3 tsp whole black pepper
3 tsp cumin seeds
1 or 2 small dry turmeric root called varali manjal
Roast all the ingredients carefully till a fine aroma is released and be careful not to darken or scorch the ingredients as cumin blackens very quickly. Patiently roast them individually especially the spices.
When cooled, dry grind to a fine powder. Let the powder cool well before storing in glass jars or a steel container. This powder wil be good for a week or so and you can prepare more by adjusting the ratios.
How to prepare a simple Rasam
1/4 cup toor dal or slightly more
2 Small tomatoes finely chopped.
1 gooseberry size tamrind
1 1/2 tsp rasam powder
Pinch of asafoetida powder/hing
Pinch of turmeric powder ( If your rasam powder doesnt have turmeric added)
Sprigs of curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds.
2 dry red chillies
Chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.
Salt to taste
1-2 tsp oil/ghee
Prepare 2 1/2 cups of tamrind water by soaking it previously in warm water to soften it.
Pour it in a vessel
Add chopped tomatoes,salt, rasam powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida powder,and the crushed curry leaves.Keep this to boil till tomatoes cook.
Meanwhile keep the dal cooked with enough water ready, by cooking in pressure cooker along with rice or seperately .
Use the cooked dal water first by taking the dal water from the top and leaving the cooked dal at the bottom ,in the vessel to be mashed and added later. This way your excess dal water wil not go waste and adds more nutrition to the rasam.
Boil the rasam with the dal water first and add more if necessary, in all 3 cups max first to boil rasam till the raw smell of the powder goes away.
After a few minutes.when the tomatoes have softened, and the boiling Rasam is slightly reduced and appears to thicken, (not too much please), mash the remaining leftover cooked dal well with a ladle and add water .
Add this mashed dal plus water to the reduced rasam extract boiling, and totally it will be around 4 cups of water finally max. After adding dal , check to see the consistency and it should appear thin and not like a sambar.
Do not add water all at once in the beginning. After adding the mashed dal plus water, let it is about to froth, dont boil over.
Add the chopped coriander leaves, check for salt.
Next step is to temper the rasam by spluttering mustard seeds by heating oil/ghee in a pan, add more curry leaves, pinch of asafoetida powder,2 red chillis and pour over the prepared rasam .
Remove and cover immediately.
Usually when we prepare both rasam and sambar at home, we keep sufficient dal to cook in the cooker along with rice , to speed up cooking , then we mash the dal, and use the excess dal water on the top for rasam with little mashed dal saved for rasam and the remaining mashed dal we save for sambar.
Am sure everyone is aware of it but for those who do not prepare rasam or sambar frequently, this will be useful.