Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lemon Rasam

Living in Colorado, skiing has become a huge part of our winter.  I don’t ski, my husband doesn’t ski, but both my kids love it.  So every December, for the past few years, we have gone to the mountains for 4 – 5 days so that the kids can enjoy skiing without the long morning drive.  We typically rent a house and go with a few other families.

While the kids are out, we watch movies, catch up on reading, sit in the hot tub, and cook.  Most of our dinners are elaborate, and with many helping hands, we can get a gourmet meal to the table very quickly.

For example, on our most recent vacation, we had Chinese soup, noodles, rice, and stir fried veggies the first night, medhu vada, masala dosa, sambar, chutney and tomato rice the second night, vegetable and chicken biryani, chole, bhature, and raita the third night, rotis, potato subji, and left overs the fourth night, and pizza on the last night.  What a feast – right?

And if this wasn’t enough, we had to head straight from the mountains to a wedding reception.  The food of course, was fabulous.

With all this over the top eating, my TamBram husband was ready for some comfort food – rasam and aloo curry.  This time, I made Lemon Rasam. Typically, my mom and mother in law would make this rasam in a eeya sombu.  Since I don’t have an eeya sombu, I make this in a regular stainless steel pot.

Lemon rasam is really easy to make and even people who don’t have a well stocked South Indian kitchen can make it - because you don't need tamarind or rasam powder.  When I make lemon rasam, my husband thinks I have made something special, even though it takes less time and effort to make it.  I do nothing to bust this myth :)

Here is what you need:

  • ½ cup toor dal
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 – 3 green chilies
  • 1” piece ginger
  • salt to taste
  • few curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • 1 tsp. ghee
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • juice of one lemon or lime


Here is how I made it:

  1. Rinse the toor dal and cook in a pressure cooker with enough water until done. Set aside
  2. With a mortar and pestle, slightly crush the ginger and green chilies (pound it a couple of times).
  3. Take about a cup of water in a pot.  Add the ginger, green chilies, tomatoes, and turmeric powder
  4. Bring this to a boil and reduce the heat.
  5. Take the cooked toor dal and mash it up so that the dal is mushy.  Add enough water (maybe another cup or cup and a half) and pour this into the rasam.  Add salt, hing and curry leaves.
  6. Cook the rasam on low heat till bubbles form on top.  It should look frothy (you can see it in some of the pictures). Take care, not to let this come to a boil.
  7. Add cilantro and turn off the heat.
  8. In a separate pan (I have a small ladle with handle), heat the ghee.  Add mustard seeds and cumin.  When the mustard seeds sputter, pour this on top of the rasam.
  9. Add lemon/lime juice and mix well.  If your lemon or lime is not juicy, you many need to add more.

Serve with rice and potato curry.  Some people prefer to drink this as is - like a soup.

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