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Rasam

(Tamil:Rasam; Kannada: Saaru; Telugu: Chaaru) is a South Indian soup. It is prepared mainly with the juices of tamarind or tomato with pepper and other spices. Lentils are added frequently and other vegetables optionally. It is eaten mixed with rice, or drunk by itself. In a formal meal, it is followed by the sambar course and is in turn followed by curd rice. It differs from sambar in that it usually relies on tomatoes for its sourness rather than tamarind, and it is usually much thinner. Rasam contains many spices which are considered beneficial to health.

History and origins

Rasam, in the Tamil language, means "essence," and, by extension, "juice" or "soup." In former times, it was prepared mainly with black pepper and tamarind, both ingredients native to and abundant in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and South India in general. Its also referred to as Chathumadhu by Iyengars.

Sourashtras, an immigrant community living in Madurai from the 16th century CE, still refer to it as Pulichaar (Puli = Tamarind + Chaar) (Puli or Pulipu means tart (tamarind)).

The same dish in commonly known as Saaru in Kannada and Chaaru in Telugu. 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.

Interestingly, rasam is the basis of mulligatawny soup, which is an Anglo-Indian version of the same.

There are different kinds of rasam depending on the ingredients:

* Tomato rasam
* Pineapple rasam
* Meriyala/Milagu (Pepper) rasam
* Jeera rasam
* Kandathippili rasam
* Neem leaf rasam
* Lime rasam
* Ginger rasam
* Garlic Rasam


and many more.

Today, rasam is prepared on a daily basis in most South Indian households around the world. Every rasam in every household is unique (even when the same ingredients are used), holding the distinct character and imprint of its cook.

Karnataka style

Ingredients

* toor dal (togari bele) - 1/4 cup

* tomatoes - 1 16 oz.can or 4 large tomatoes OR

* tamarind extract - 2 tablespoon

* cumin seeds (Jeerige) - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

* chili powder - 1/2 teaspoon

* turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon

* hing powder - 1/2 teaspoon

* grated coconut - 1 tablespoon

* mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon

* coriander seed powder - 1/2 teaspoon

* curry leaves - a bunch

* salt to taste

Preparation

* Pressure cook the togari bele well with sufficient water.
* If using tomatoes for sourness, boil them first. Else, add the cooked togari bele, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder and tamarind extract.
* Simmer for a few minutes * Blend the grated coconut with coriander seed powder (and any other spice as required)
* Add hing powder.
* Simmer for a few minutes (so that the coconut is cooked properly)
* Heat a little oil in a fry pan and pop the mustard seeds and optionally cumin seeds.
* Add curry leaves after removing the heat source and add to the Saaru.
* Garnish with coriander leaves.

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