link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' link rel = "image_src” href=”preview-image-here.jpg” / expr:content='data:blog.metaDescription' Sukanya's musings: RASAM (The South Indian Soup)

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

RASAM (The South Indian Soup)

RASAM (The South Indian Soup)History and originsRasam is known as Chaaru, in Telugu or Saaru in Kannada, means "essence," and on improvisation it means, "juice" or "soup."
Tamil Iyengars, called it 'Chaathamudhu' (Chaaru + Amudhu, the Tamil form of Amrit (ambrosia)). One must understand the benefits of a dish that is equated with Amrit or Ambrosia (elixir of life)
Sourashtras, an immigrant community living in Madurai from the 16th century, still call it Pulichaar (Puli = Tamarind + Chaar).... (Puli or Pulipu means tart (tamarind)).With hoteliers and restaurateurs expanding their joints in South India in the mid-twentieth century, it was popularised and came to be known by its Tamil name as Rasam. World over it is most popularly known as Rasam.
Interestingly, rasam is the basis of mulligatawny soup, which is an Anglo-Indian version of the same.In the olden days it was prepared mainly with black pepper and tamarind, the ingredients native to and abundant in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and South India in general.In a formal meal, the rasam course is served after the sambhar course and followed by curd rice.
It is eaten mixed with rice, or drunk by itself. but it can also be had as an appetizer before the beginning of a meal.

Traditional Method of making Rasam
A Brahmin household will always have rasam as part of their daily meal.
Rasam is traditionally cooked in an alloy vessel (Eeya pathram). Eeyam means lead in Tamil, since lead is poisonous, people stopped using the eeya pathrams(vessels) or eeya chombu(pot), but there is no lead involved in the making of this vessel. It is primarily an alloy of tin and other metals.
The Eeya Pathram is said to add taste to the rasam, though modern science doesn’t really advise us to do so.
Nowadays there is a craze of reverting back to the things that were traditionally done and Eeya patrams are becoming popular again and have re-entered the stores.
One should be careful while using this vessel, for, it melts when on fire. You could call it a melting pot!
Rasam is prepared mainly with the juices of tamarind or tomato with pepper and other spices. Lentils are added frequently and other vegetables optionally. It differs from sambhar in that it usually relies on tomatoes for its sourness rather than tamarind, and it is usually much thinner. The sambhar has more lentils than Rasam. Ideally the water of the cooked lentils are added to the Rasam, thus giving the benefits of the lentils but at the same time keeping its consistency drinkable. Every rasam in every household is unique (even when the same ingredients are used), holding the distinct character and imprint of its cook.
Health Benefits of having Rasam
This light broth is not only a treat to the mouth but also has medicinal values.
Soups are usually known to act as an appetizer, similarly the rasam when had at the beginning of the meal is said to increases the appetite.
Rasam contains many spices which are considered beneficial to health.
Steaming hot rasam is supposed to be very soothing when you are suffering from a cold, cough or sore throat.
Rasam is usually served to the person who is sick with fever and has no appetite and feels tastelessness in the mouth, it not only increases the appetite but also the spices in the rasam hit the mouth and throat increasing the taste in the mouth.
Rasam is also had when someone suffers from a headache.
No wonder it was consumed everyday. Nowadays people are so busy they don’t get the time to cook, so people make do with either sambhar or rasam. There are hardly a few households left which prepare both like the olden times.
Saaru in Karnataka
A special reference to the Rasam or Saaru as it is known as in Karnataka. Karnataka is very famous for it distinctive taste of the Rasam. They prepare many varieties of the rasam. Rasam is so popular in their households that it is enjoyed as a main dish in many regions of Karnataka. The saaru of Karnataka is different from the rasam of Tamil Nadu, and the chaaru of Andhra Pradesh. It has more protein, thicker consistency, and more varied ingredients. Typically lentils are set to boil along with a teaspoon of oil. Lentils are cooked with a curry powder known in Karnataka as Saarina Pudi (saaru powder), along with salt, sugar, lemon juice, curry leaves, fried mustard seeds and a pinch of asafoetida powder. The curry leaves are added towards the end. Optionally, chopped coriander leaves and grated coconut are also added.
You will be amazed at the variety of Saaru prepared
Milagu Saaru - Known in the West the Mulligatawny soup (milagu = pepper, tanneer = water).
Tomato Saaru - With tomato puree as main ingredient.
Tamarind Saaru - With tamarind extract as main ingredient and without lentils.
Hesaru Kaalu Saaru - Green gram soup.
Pappu Saaru - Common variant made with pulses and tomato stock.
Baellae Saaru - Most common variety with toor dal, coconut & tamarind juice.
Vankaaya Saaru - Eggplant & tamarind juice.
Majjiga Saaru - Soup made with seasoned buttermilk.
Ulava Saaru - Horse gram soup.
Kattu saaru - Kattu refers to the water drained from the cooked dal.
Kattina saaru - a semi-sweet rasam using jaggery.
Jeerige saaru - made with jeera, cumin.
Lemon rasam - a sour soup made with lemon juice.
Hurali saaru - another healthy rasam made with horse-gram.

Mysore Rasam - A fragrant soup made with fried grams/dals.
Bassaaru - Deriving its name from "busodu" (Kannada), which is the act of draining water from boiled vegetables/greens/lentils.
Kottambari jeerige Saaru - made with coriander and cumin seeds.
Kadale Saaru - Soaked black chickpeas, coconut and ginger.
Alasundae Saaru - Black eyed peas and potato, coconut and ginger.
Rasam in Tamilnadu
There are different kinds of rasam depending on the ingredients:
Tomato rasam – Made with tomatoes and spices
Pineapple rasam – Made with Pineapple and spices
Meriyala/Milagu (Pepper) rasam – Pepper being the main ingredient here
Jeera rasam – Cumin being the main ingredient here
Kandathippili rasam – A herb used for illness
Neem leaf rasam – Neem Leaves are used to make this rasam which has immense health benefits
Lime rasam – Lime being the main ingredient here
Ginger rasam – Ginger being the main ingredient here
Garlic Rasam - Garlic being the main ingredient here
Chaaru in Andhra Pradesh
The Andhra Chaaru is similar to the saaru and rasam but more spicy than its counterparts as Andhra cuisine usually is.
There are vegetable rasams, fruit rasams and herbal rasams. You will be seeing a lot of Rasam recipes in my blog.

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