Saturday, April 9, 2011

What to do on a rainy day

I woke up to steel grey skies yesterday.

I don't mind the rain- not when there is thunder and lightning and raging winds and rain pouring down in sheets. Its great to sit in the warmth of your home, sip a hot chai and watch the storm play its course out of the window. What i can't stand, however, is gloomy, overcast skies (like yesterday)and  the constant drip-drip of a half-hearted drizzle that never seems to stop. Wake up to such depressing weather, and you can be sure that your whole day will turn out in the same manner.

In such cases, there are only two things that can manage to bring a smile to my face.

One - A stiff shot of hot brandy

Or- the smell of hot peppery Rasam boiling away on the stove.

I decided to have both! :)

Okay, for all my non-Indian readers out there, Rasam is a classic from the South Indian kitchen. It's hot, spicy and tangy -a single gulp of it is enough to warm you from within. It's thin and runny as soup. Have it with rice, have it as soup, take a swig of it by itself, its great however you have it. It is one of those traditional dishes that follow a different recipe in each household, and every mom/grandmom would claim that theirs is the best. And there a million different versions out there too- dal rasam, tamarind rasam, lemon rasam, tomato rasam, pepper rasam... This recipe is from my dad-a combination of  all the different types- and of course, the best of it all! :D

What's different about this Rasam?

1.There is no coriander powder used- instead, we make up for it with fresh coriander which imparts a beautifully verdant flavour to the finished product

2. No tamarind- the tang comes from the lemon and tomatoes alone

3. The heat in this dish comes from green chillies, chilli powder and black pepper, each adding a different note, this making the flavour more complex


1/4 cup cooked and mashed toor dal (available in all indian stores)

One full bunch of fresh cilantro/coriander (Should amount to 3/4 cup if chopped - we aren't using any coriander powder, so don't skimp on it!)

2 medium sized plum tomatoes, quartered

3 green chillies

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp asafoestida powder

Juice of one full lemon (this may vary according to how tangy you like it- taste and add accordingly)

Salt to taste

1 tsp of browm sugar/ powdered jaggery

1 and a 1/2 tsp ghee (its clarified butter- available in Indian stores)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin

2 dried red chillies

Few sprigs of curry leaves

1. Cook and mash the toor dal. Slit green chillies. Quarter the tomatoes.

2. Throw the mashed dal, green chillies, tomatoes and the full bunch of coriander into a pot with 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce to simmer, add chilli powder, turmeric and crushed black pepper and allow it to simmer until the tomatoes are cooked.

3. Add salt and take the rasam off the flame. Add the lemon juice. The tomatoes add to the tangy flavour as well- so, make sure to taste before you pour all the lemon juice into the rasam.

4. Just before serving, heat the ghee in a small pan and  add the mustard seeds and dried chillies. Once the mustard seeds start to splutter add the cumin and then the asafoetida. Add the curry leaves to it  and pour the entire mixture into the rasam. Serve hot!

NOTE:A full bunch of wilted coriander floating around a bowl of clear soup doesn't make for a very appetizing appearance. So, I usually tie the bundle of coriander (rather like a bouquet garni) before I cook it in the rasam and fish it out before transferring the contents into the serving bowl. Garnish the dish with a teaspoon of fresh coriander.

Post script: A couple of shots of brandy later, i got a little adventurous - Tried mixing the brandy with some of the hot rasam. Wish I hadn't. All i can say is - do NOT try this at home! :P


  1. I don't think I've ever had looks yummy though :)
    And your rasam looks great- yours is the first recipe I've seen that I actually want to make! Drinking brandy and getting adventurous with it sounds like something I would do...

  2. Sonia! You should try brandy- its awesome! :D

    Thank you so much for the comment! Do try out this recipe and let me know how it went! :)

  3. OMG!!!!. Are those the pics of your house. I just love rain and your pics are mesmerizing. They took me back to water filled days and lots of rains something which I do not get in this part of the world.



  4. I have tried making rasam with sub par recipes and the final product is never pleasing. Yours sounds amazing, I am going to make it soon.

    I am with you on the half hearted rain thang.

  5. I want to know did you get some kick after combining brandy and rasam. Rasam looks fantastic.

  6. Rasam looks awesome..

    First time here, Happy following you..


  7. Nothing like some hot piping rasam on a cold rainy day..hey mixing it with some alcohol may not be such a bad idea lol :D

    US Masala