Here is the thing: I have been devouring rasam at least two times a week for as long as my memory goes, and it is still the last meal I would opt for. I have a rasam recipe for all moods and seasons. For a warm hug, there’s nothing like my mother’s tomato and toor dal rasam; when cold and cough makes me grumpier than usual, pepper rasam comes to the rescue; and if I need a good refresher, there is always Dodda’s (grandmother’s) tamarind rasam.
For me, more than comfort food, it’s a beloved dish that comes with a familiarity of all things that slip away in crevices of time. For a moment, between the sip and gulp, there is a sense of belonging that is just so hard to come by in a world that’s pushing and pulling you into a myriad of things. And another good thing about rasam is that it transforms any meal into a feast. Pair it with a Mangalorean fish fry and it is bound to leisurely nestle in the memory box for a long time. Or you can opt for a spice kick with Naatu Kozhi rasam or chicken rasam.
During summers, it might feel a little unusual to indulge in rasam but like I said, there is a rasam for every season. In the coastal areas, as the heat feels unbearable, often a bowl of cooling rasam can be more relieving than you might think. Here are some rasams to keep the heat in check.
While it’s the season of mangoes, this one calls for all the raw mango lovers. Raw mango is one of the most versatile fruits that I have come across. From fish (raw mango and fish curry) to toor dal, it not only complements but enhances the flavours with its tanginess. The recipe is a simple one. Chop the raw mango into small cubes and let it cook in the cooker along with toor dal, green chillis, salt and turmeric powder and pour in about three glasses of water. Once cooked, mash the dal and the mango. In a pan, heat ghee or oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, chopped ginger and garlic, and sauté for a minute or two. Add the mashed mixture along with turmeric powder, salt, and water. Add the mint leaves and boil for about five minutes.
There are variations to the recipe, some use mango puree and add rasam powder before the final boil. You can always figure out what works for your tastebuds and change accordingly. Serve with rice or as just as it is.
Buttermilk is often a go-to drink during the summer. After a nice meal, a glass of buttermilk cools down the body like no other. Turning buttermilk into a delicious rasam takes almost no time.
First, whisk the buttermilk until it is smooth. Grind red chillies, ginger, garlic, coriander powder, pepper powder, cumin seeds, and grated coconut with a little water into a fine paste. Add this to the buttermilk and mix well. In a pan, sauté mustard seeds and curry leaves and a red chilli. Add this tempering to the buttermilk mixture, along with chopped coriander and salt. Ta-da, your majjige saaru is ready.
I’ll admit that this is an odd one, even for a rasam fanatic. But a friend promises that this comes as a surprise—a pleasant one. Blend fresh tender coconut cream with tomato, tamarind, and turmeric. In a pan, sauté mustard seeds and curry leaves for a few seconds and add the cream mixture and bring it to a boil. Add rasam powder and stir. Then add tender coconut water and boil for a minute. Finally, add a tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves heated in ghee. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice.
Some people also add tender coconut cream before serving.