Archive | March, 2012

An Ode to the Vada Pav

If Rasam is my most favorite food, then Vada-Pav comes a close second. Its my comfort food for the soul and the only food that I craved for all through 09 months of pregnancy. It is often called a poor man’s burger and I think calling it so is an insult to a mighty, crunchy from outside and deliciously soft and spicy from inside, hot Vada between a Pav that has just the right amount of Lasoon Chutney and Deep Fried salted green chillies. The Vegetable Bonda from South India, is an inferior and distant cousin, that cannot make claims to Vada Pav’s feisty and feiry nature.This is a food for not the faint hearted, or for someone who watches his weight and is perenially counting his calories. This deep fried, huge balls of fire as I call them is not the ideal food to be had before a romantic interlude or on your first date. This is a dish you have with someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life with. The Vada Pav lover is a Man of Character. He is not pretentious, is large hearted and loves all things for what it is,and will never give you a hard time when you put on a little weight,very symbolic of the Vada Pav. All over Bombay and Maharashtra you would see carts selling Vada Pav from early morning to late nights and is the perfect snack in between meals (According to Me). My growing up years in my family meant Saturday evenings in front of the television watching Doordarshan and sharing a few Vada Pav’s and Mirchi Bhajiya’s to tide over the ennui .College meant feasting on Vada Pav in Shivaji Park and outside Kirti College. Moving to Chennai/Kolkata and now New Delhi meant being bereft of this snack, and you can see me begging and pleading with friends, relatives and strangers to get me Vada Pav from Bombay.So popular is the snack ,that a vendor of this outside my parents started out with rather humble beginnings, now boasts of owning 02 plush apartments in our Hiranandani Complex, Powai and has sent his kids abroad for further studies. A no mean feat at that. My dearest chachi and mother are so inspired by this, they are ready to retire early and set up a stall selling hot Vada Pav’s soon. Ah, my days of being a multi- millionaire are just round the corner
RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT VADA PAV
Ingredients
Few Potatoes, Boiled and Mashed
Green Chillies and Garlic ground to a coarse paste
Mustard Seeds
Curry Leaves
Turmeric Powder
Besan/Gram Flour mixed with heeng, turmeric, salt and water to make a thick paste of g coating consistency
Oil for Tempering and Frying
Accompaniments
Bedekar dry Lasson Chutney
Few Green Chillies, Slit and Stuffed with Salt and Fried
Soft Pavs preferably from Bombay
Recipe
Heat a spoonful of oil for temepering. When hot, add chopped curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric powder. Add the green chilli-garlic paste and salt to taste, followed by mashed potatoes and cook for a minute. Cool and divide into equal portions and make round tikki shaped roundels. Meanwhile in another pan, heat oil for frying, and when sufficiently hot, dip the potato tikkis in besan batter and fry till light golden brown and not the colour of pakoras. Stuff them between slices of pav with fried green chillies and lasson chutney and EAT HOT!!! NEVER EVER SHARE

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Rasam Raaga

My husband a true blue Punjabi, loves Sambhar and Rice as much, or more than Paranthas, my best friend Vaishali prefers tempered Curd Rice over her staple Gujarati fare. My favorite food in the whole world is the ubiquitous and oft unsung Rasam. The Rasam is almost always only a part of a South Indian thali or as a go between before your main order of Paneer Masala Dosa arrives on the table. This little gem like quite a few of its counterparts across cuisines across the globe does not get the pride of place on menus and because of its coy nature is overshadowed by the bully called Sambhar.

I enjoy Rasam, everywhere, all kinds of it; from the tangy, very sour Rasam of the Saravana Bhavans of the world, to the slightly sweet Mysore Rasam at Café Mysore, Mumbai and the pseudo-exorbitantly-priced-with-no-character Rasam at 5 star hotels.

As a child, I have vivid memories of my grandmother (who incidentally makes the best Rasam in the whole universe) stirring potfuls of Rasam, when we were sick, travelling, and on joyous and festive occasions. At my mother’s place, Rasam was always an antidote for any ailment. Ginger Rasam for a bad throat, an Ajwain Rasam for stomach ache & upsets, Lemon Rasam to clear the palate after a bout of flu and even a hot & fiery pepper Rasam for a heartbreak were prescribed.

Infact, muligatwany soup, the national soup of Sri Lanka is derived from our very own Rasam or mulagathanni, mulaga-pepper and thanni-water. This versatile dish spiked with vodka makes the most mean cocktail that can leave one begging for more. I sometimes serve Pineapple Rasam, as an appetizer in shot glasses or Lemony Rasam with Vadas dunked in them (very unusual) for my lunch parties, but a hit every time. One of the first solids to feed a child in a South Indian household, is mashed rice with some divine Rasam.

Its poetic justice to me hence, that my son Andy’s Annaprashan, is just 03 months away, and my grandmother will make the most delightful Rasam. Andy’s induction to the world of Rasam is about to begin. SLUURPP !!!!SLUURRPP!! REJOICE

RECIPE FOR GINGER & PEPPER RASAM
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns and ½ inch Ginger with peel (grind them coarsely)
¼ cup Dal water (Any Dal preferably Arhar)
If cooking Dal, just take a couple of Teaspoons of cooked dal and mix it with water, or dilute any leftover yellow dal
½ Tsp Turmeric Pwd
1 Tsp Sambhar Pwd
Salt to Taste

For the Tempering
1 big spoonful of Ghee
1 whole Red Chilli
Handful of Coriander leaves, broken with your hands, including the stems

1. In a large vessel, mix 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, ginger-pepper powder, Sambhar Powder and Salt boil for about 10-12 minutes
2. Add, diluted Dal water and let it cook for 5-7 minutes, till it bubbles over
3. In a small saucepan, heat ghee, and when hot, break and add red chilli, coriander leaves and add it to the Bubbling Rasam.
4.Check for seasoning and Serve Hot
5. Sit Back and Receive Compliments!!!!

Perfect Party Prospectus-03

We have this amazing bunch of friends whom we meet on a regular basis over dinner . since, most of us have small children we prefer meeting at someone’s place. This time around it was our place, and I wanted to show off once again

The menu was as follows

Starters

Shammi Kebabs Rolls, Batata Vadas, Pop Corn for the brats, Onion fryums

Main Course

Palak Chicken, Kadai Paneer, Pulao, Mixed Dal, Boondi Raita, Tandoori Rotis

Dessert                                                                                                                                                  

Chocolate mousse duo

The menu does look daunting and seems as if I would have slogged for hours and  hours  on end in the kitchen. But, with some smart planning and mise-en-place, you can serve the most elaborate menu the next time with effortless grace.

This is how and what I did fo a dinner on Saturday. Planned and finalised the menu by Wednesday latest, keeping in mind the choice of cuisine(Essentially Indian, heavily leaning towards Punjabi). Thursday morning I did the difficult task of ordering the vegetables,paneer, mutton mince and chicken drumsticks.( Try foodmandi.com for fresh and reasonably priced veggies to be delivered atyour doorstep at a time of your choice next day).

Friday morning, boil potatoes for Batata vadas, boil half kilo mince with an inch of ginger, turmeric, salt and half cup of chana dal and water to cover the same in a pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Once cool, drain the water(my husband and retriever drink it like a soup, very very nutritious and tasty), and blitz it either by hand masher or in a mixie, make even sized patties and refrigerate for next  day. Same for the batata vadas (see recipe in Ode to the Vada Pav)and you are done with the starters. Remember to buy roomali roti packets for your Shammi kebab rolls.

For the main course, marinate cubes of paneer  in a zip lock bag with even sized cubes of onion, tomato and capsicum in a marinade of curd with salt, lemon juice, ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and kasuri methi. Refrigerate the same. Boil and puree the spinach.

For the chocolate mousse duo, buy white and dark chocolate slabs and melt them separately. Mix them with softened butter and marsh mallows . pour them in shot glasses or martini glasses, alternately and let it set.

Saturday morning, day of the dinner, set your table with your best crockery and cutlery. Heat a kadhai with some desi ghee, when hot, add some whole garam masala, followed by cleaned chicken drumsticks on a high flame till seared from both sides. Add the spinach puree, salt, garam masala powder and red chilli powder , cover and let it cook for 45 minutes approximately. Meanwhile, heat a tava and just empty the contents of the Ziploc bag for the paneer, and let it cook for 10 minutes. Boil (assorted dal, equal quantities)with salt, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Add some roasted jeera and freshly chopped coriander leaves, when done. A nice light dal, to balance the heavy starters and chicken and paneer.(Please note, the main course has one green chicken dish, one yellow dal, one red paneer and one white raita. Always remember to visualise your menu, else your menu though may taste great may end up looking like an eyesore. We first feast with our eyes, then with our nose and then with our tongue)

Relax ,take a long bath, and catch up on a well deserved nap in the afternoon to perk you up. In the evening, sauté the shammi kebabs in oil/ghee, wrap them in roomali rotis with some green chutney, and arrange them on platters. Fry the batata vadas, pop some popcorn in the microwave. Set your drinks table. Make rice and raita .( I have a full time domestic help, who made tandoori rotis in an electric oven.Alternatively, buy frozen parathas, one also gets half cooked packets of rotis, that just needs to be sauted both sides for a minute each).  Voila,you are all set to entertain.

Whoever, said entertaining was a child’s play wasn’t far from the truth

Perfect Party Prospectus-02

 Often, after a hard days work you realise you have unexpected guests. There is no option but to order in and Entertain. Sweat Not, with a couple of tricks the run- of- the- mill Dal and Chicken can be jazzed up, your house can look fit to host the President and you can be “The Perfect Party Hostess” to impress your husbands friends and your boss as if its no Big DealI always stock up my refrigerator and larder with the below essentials:-Some Frozen, ready to fry snacks(I make cocktail cheese and chicken samosas, half fry them and freeze them), Sweet Corn, Cold Cuts, Frozen Parathas(Sumeru and Al Kabeer have a wide range), Ice cream
-Cheese Cubes
-Mayonnaise, Tomato Ketchup and Mustard
-Curd and Green Chutney
-Chocolate Sauce,Strawberry Sauce etc(Hersheys has a couple of them)
-Eggs
-Assorted Jam
-Fruits
-Cocktail sticks
-Papads & Fryums
-Fancy Cutlery and Crockery
-Paper and Cloth napkins(starched and crisp and clean)
-Beer and Assorted Drinks as per your choice and consumption
-Assorted Juice in Tetra Packs and Soft DrinksSnacks
-Cheese cube and Grape/Cherry on cocktail sticks, arranged beautifully on a platter or in a Martini glass if hard pressed for time
-Get the ready to fry snacks out of the freezer and fry them, serve with green chutney and tomato ketchup-mayo mix
-Microwave Sweet Corn kernels with butter and pepper, and serve them cold or on Monaco biscuits a la canapesDinner
I order a vegetarian main and dal, and a chicken/mutton, pour them in lovely bowls and throw the incriminating disposables. I make some raita and jeera pulao at home. Thaw the frozen parathas and saute them on a tava with some ghee (do this while warming dinner, so the aroma of ghee wafts through), Fry/Roast Papads. Chop and garnish the main courses with/or coriander leaves, ginger, green chillies, dried herbs/dollop of curd. Make a green or pasta salad and serve them in individual shot glassesDessert
Vanilla Ice cream with some chopped fruits, cream wafers, nuts and chocolate/strawberry sauce on top. Add any left over cake or cream biscuits to make your Signature Fruit TrifleLay your best cutlery-crockery and napkins. Remember to get some flowers on your way home, lay them in fancy vases/bottles/jugs. Light up some agarbattis/scented candles, wear your best dress and put your best foot forward. Voila !

Warning : DONT BE SURPRISED IF YOU KEEP HAVING UNEXPECTED GUESTS 

Perfect Party Prospectus

 I believe hosting a perfect lunch/dinner party is as easy as a chid’s play. All it requires is some planning and organising(yes puneet, there I go again) and effective time management.
A succesful and popular menu needs to consider the following S.W.A.T
Strength- This is your signature dish, the one dishyou make the best and is a hot favorite with friends and family. My friend Madhu Agarwal makes the best”fruit yoghurt” and always serves it in her kitties, lunches and get togethers. I believe, one of the reason people go over to their house is to have a bowlful of this rich, creamy dessert. For you, it could be anything from the amazing pasta salad to something as simple and delightful as arhar dal. As they say, why mess with a classic. If you have a Birkin Kelly there is no reason why you should not dress around it
Wowie- The bling or the wow, could be anything from serving payasam in Martini glasses, or a beautiful Swarovski Crystal Bowl to serve your salad. Think out of the box, something you have never done before. Remember to keep it simple, and there should always just be ONE wow every time. DONT OVERCROWD EVER
Add-Ons-Depending on the choice of menu, it could be serving fried idlis on a banana leaf platter or placing chopstick and having jasmine tea with Chinese food. Paan and choice of various Saunfs and Churans at the end of a meal is also a great idea
Tinglers- No meal can be complete without its various accompaniments of spreads and chutneys. For Indian menus, one can rustle up some interesting raitas like a Beetroot or Ladies Finger Pachadi, array of pickles like Gobhi-Shalgam, Prawn or Chicken Pickle, lip smacking khejur or tomato chutney. Chinese meals would have its quintessential Cabbage Khimchi, Soya and Chilli Vinegar, besides some nutty peanut sauce, honey-coriander etc. A Continental menu can be jazzed up with kasundi mustard, pesto sauce, hummus etc
Always remember the golden rule, once the party has began-
RELAX!!! GRAB YOUR DRINK!!!! ENJOY!!!

DEBUNKING PREGNANCY MYTHS

You are pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t know whether to congratulate you or sympathize with you. Living in India, you would be inundated with advice both solicited and unsolicited from friends, family, well wishers and strangers. You wouldn’t know which to ingest and follow and which ones to chuck in the bin. Trust me I have been there and done that.

Hence a guide to Debunking some Popular Pregnancy Myths

Myth 1
CHINESE FOOD- NO GOOD: Chinese cuisine is the second most popular cuisine in our country and not all Chinese food is bad. Avoid food with ajinomoto or mono sodium glutamate (MSG) as it is known to cause physical and mental deformities in your child. One would be surprised to know that a lot of Indian food in restaurants have MSG and so does some packaged food. So when in doubt ask the chef or check the packaging details

Myth 2
HEELS,NO PLEASE: If like me you are short or are used to wearing heels on a regular basis, to completely move onto flat soles will be a problem. As long, they don’t cause your legs to swell, and you can keep up your balance and not fall,you could invest in a pair of good and sturdy wedges instead. Wedges incidentally are one of the fashion rages for the season

Myth 3
EATING FOR TWO, ALWAYS DO: Just because you are pregnant, doesn’t mean you should double your calorie intake. Your baby needs only about 300 calories a day. Besides, your body is your best guide and will ask for food if needed. The more calories you intake, more difficult it would be to carry on the excess weight, and would only aggravate the pain in your back and feet. Also, remember you need to lose it post delivery

Myth 4
AERATED DRINKS, NEVER GLASSES CLINK: Though colas and fizzy drinks just add upto empty calories, its not earth shattering to have an occasional glass once in a while. It gives you instant energy, if feeling low or flushed. Given a choice opt for Lemonade over Colas and Diet or Sugar Free ones over Regular

Myth 5
CLIMBING STAIRS, DO DESPAIR: Though one needs to be careful when doing up and down stairs, it is not entirely avoidable. Doctors advise you to take it slow as chances of slipping down the stairs are higher. Always hold on to the railing while climbing and walking down. Take one step at a time, and if you feel faint or dizzy, take a break and sit down leaning against the wall for support. Also a great and much needed exercise for you

Myth 6
FOOD YOU TUCK, LETS YOU KNOW THE SEX: The food you crave does not indicate the sex of the child. If you crave sweets or spicy food or chaat, its just what your body needs the most at that time. Having a glowing skin does not mean you are going to have a girl. Neither your stomach jutting out as compared to your buttocks hints at a boy. One would not need radiologists if these parameters were accurate

Myth 7
TRAVEL, OH HELL: Always check with your doctor if you can travel. She is the best judge of your body. Discuss your travel plans, based on the mode of travelling, distance to travel and your weeks in pregnancy. For sure, as each week of pregnancy progresses, you will find it more and more difficult to travel, but I have done road trips well into my 7th month of pregnancy and air travel in my 8th month. My sister in law has flown continents, moved bag and baggage with a 3 year old son when she was 8.5 months pregnant

Myth 8
SHOPPING FOR THE BABY,MAYBE?This myth originated when fabrics weren’t pre washed and hence they were made to wear old worn clothes that were soft on their delicate skin. Nowadays, most children’s clothes are pre washed and are soft to suit their delicate skin. Besides, one needs to carry a baby bag with a gamut of baby stuff to the hospital. You would rather want your partner or parent taking care of you and your child after she is born, rather than running around buying them. Used clothes besides have a higher chance of passing on infection. But, always wash your baby’s new clothes in a mild detergent and hot water before wear

Travails to be a Yummy Mummy

  1. When I realized I was pregnant, my first thought was “Oh God!I shall now be fat”. It was a mission for me to not put on more weight than required. Though I have been blessed with lucky genes, I was conscious and gained only 10 kgs by the end of my pregnancy. It’s a myth that pregnant women need to eat for 02 people. And especially in India, where overly dominating aunties would walk up to me and tell me that I was not eating enough and my child could turn out to be weak and under developed. Though, I was determined to not let this affect me, it did cause a chink in my armour. And I would scurry to my husband and call my gynecologist who would check me and laugh over my unfounded worries. Over a few months I learned to ignore their “well meaning” advice and kept myself fit and active all throughout 09 months. Being a housewife who loves to cook and bake, has an active social circle the temptations were many. But, better sense prevailed and this was my fitness mantra all throughout pregnancy.DIET CHARTP.S- FOR A VEGETARIAN WHO HATES PANEER, GHEE AND REFUSED TO EAT EGG WHITES OR HAVE WHEY PROTEIN TO DRINK AS A SUBSTITUTE
    P.P.S- I HAVE HYPO THYROIDISM, CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE YOU HAVE ANY OF THE PRESCRIBED MEDICINES I HADEarly morning(around 0600 hrs)
    Thyronom 50 mgAfter an hours break
    A cup of strong adrak Tea without sugar, and some biscuitsBreakfast
    Poha/Semiya Upma with veggies/Toast with chutney and boiled potatoes/Idlis/ Stuffed Parathas without oil or ghee
    Tea
    -Orofer xt
    -A nap for 30-45 minutes, or just rest with a book in bed

    Mid Morning
    Milk/Tea/Buttermilk/Fresh juice/Coconut water/Iced Tea
    05 Almonds
    Roasted Chivda/ Fruits /
    – Slow paced walk for about 15-20 minutes (if weather and body permitted)

    Lunch
    03 chapatis without ghee
    Choice of vegetable
    Any dal without tadka, just some roasted jeera and heeng while boiling and garnished with lots of fresh chopped dhaniya
    Curd
    -Siesta for about an hour or so

    Early evening
    Tea with couple of biscuits/ Fruit/Coconut water/Iced Tea
    -Slow paced walking for about 15-20 minutes, followed by visit to the park for about half –one hour

    Dinner
    03 chapatis or 02 chapatis and little rice
    Vegetables
    Choice of dal
    Curd
    -Post dinner, I would either have some fruits or half a bar of Mars/5-star followed by a stroll

    Sleeptime
    – Dexorange Capsule
    -Calcimax Forte

    My bed side table always had a box of salted biscuits, cream biscuits, almonds and some chocolates which I would have late night when sleep would elude me

    When a craving would strike I did indulge in it be it Chinese food (without mono sodium glutamate) to Chaat Papdi and Vada-Pav. But, I always ensured that it was either made at home or eaten at a good quality restaurant

    The battle is now on to lose the last stubborn kilo or so, so that I can fit into my new LBD

Quest for Food

I am an avid FOOD JUNKIE. I love to read articles on food, buy and hoard food magazines and devour every recipe book as if there is no tomorrow. Infact, Puneet and I, in our quest for GOOD FOOD have managed to scour every small dhaba and restaurant in the vicinity. (By vicinity I mean a 150 Kms odd). We drove to Murthal from Gurgaon and back on a Sunday morning to have parathas and chai. Driven at 0400 hrs from Chennai on the Trichy highway for some great coffee and companionship . Infact, in my 38th week of pregnancy, Puneet and I, drove to Ashoka Road, New Delhi and Saravana Bhavan-Connaught Circus to have great Andhra food and South Indian meals, Murthal for its divine stuffed Parathas two days in a row, since with a child these trips would not have been possible for sometime to come. I guess, my husband and I are crazy, and its this craziness and passion for food that brought us together in the first place.

Dont get me wrong, its not as if I hate 5 star hotels, I have worked with them, but I would never travel or move mountains to eat in a 5 star hotel. I find most food there without any depth, similar in flavors and taste. They are over priced, pretentious in their portion sizes and their fancy presentations and twist to classics dont get my adrenalin going. Dal Bukhara at ITC and Dimsums at The House of Ming are to die for, but I wont necessarily travel all the way for the fare. On the other hand, I can travel by a cycle rickshaw to bylanes of Chandni Chowk for the perfect, melt in the mouth Dahi Bhallas of Nataraj(measly Rs 10) and make the much dreaded trip to my in-laws in Lucknow for the best ever, cool, tangy and delicious Batashe at Royal Cafe, Hazratganj and risk having Gastro-entritis in my lookout for the best, potent-ly sweet, ginger and mint sugarcane juice at roadside carts all over Gurgaon.

Nowadays, the hunt for the soft and crispy baturas and spicy chhole is on. That means trips to Haldirams/Bikanervalas/Om Sweets of the world. Traveling to Karnal to have chachas chhole-baturas at his roadisde greasy shop, pigging out at innumerable stalls and carts in NCR, fighting and debating till we reach a consensus on the same. SLURP!!! SLURP!!! Kaput goes my diet…….flying out of the window

The Fantastic Edible Egg

Eggs can be used for so many recipes, they are good to eat, and they have little air holes in the shells. Eggs roll, wobble around and they come from a chicken!
According to the American Egg Board one large egg has 70 calories and provides 13 nutrients. Eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein including all nine essential amino acids, as well as healthy unsaturated fats and lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that contribute to eye health.
Several people have asked me about eggs. How long can you keep them? How to know if they are bad and how to store eggs.
Below is a list of facts and tips about eggs. I hope you find something that interests you.
1. Eggs last longer if stored with the wide end up. They have an air pocket and this will give more distance between the yolk and the air pocket that may harbor bacteria.
2. Eggs will absorb refrigerator odors. Store them in their original containers or a closed container of some sort.
3. Don’t taste batter containing raw eggs.
4. Freeze egg whites in ice-cube trays for use in recipes.
To freeze whole eggs or yolks crack them into a bowl and gently stir to break up the yolk somewhat. Try not to incorporate air into the eggs. Label the container with the date and the number of eggs. They can be kept frozen for a year, and should be thawed in the refrigerator the day before you intend to use them.
5. Allow 2 eggs per person when scrambling eggs if adding cheese or other ingredients. If not adding anything to scrambled eggs allow 3 eggs per person.
6. For fluffy scrambled eggs, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of cream per egg.
7. It is easier to separate whites from yolks if the eggs are at room temperature.
8. Cold water works better for cleaning utensils with egg on them.
9. In recipes always use large eggs unless recipes state differently.
10. To determine if an egg is good, drop into cold water. If the egg sinks and lies on its side, it is a good egg. If it floats to the top, it is bad.
11. To peel boiled eggs easily, add salt to the water before boiling and rinse eggs in cold water before peeling.
12. Hard boiled eggs will keep in the refrigerator for a week. The shelf life of an uncooked egg in the refrigerator is about 4 weeks.
Now some facts about the producers of the incredible egg from Funshun:
On average, a hen lays 300 eggs per year.
Nine egg yolks have been found in one chicken egg.
A mother hen turns her egg approximately 50 times in a day. This is so the yolk does not stick to the shell.
To produce a dozen eggs, a hen has to eat about four pounds of feed.
The largest chicken egg ever laid weighed a pound and had a double yolk and shell.
A chicken with red ear lobes will produce brown eggs, and a chicken with white ear lobes will produce white eggs.
A chicken is 75% water.
In the U.S., approximately 46% of the chicken that is eaten by people comes from restaurants or other food outlets.
Hens will produce larger eggs as they grow older.

Rasam Raaga

My husband a true blue Punjabi, loves Sambhar and Rice as much, or more than Paranthas, my best friend Vaishali prefers tempered Curd Rice over her staple Gujarati fare. My favorite food in the whole world is the ubiquitous and oft unsung Rasam. The Rasam is almost always only a part of a South Indian thali or as a go between before your main order of Paneer Masala Dosa arrives on the table. This little gem like quite a few of its counterparts across cuisines across the globe does not get the pride of place on menus and because of its coy nature is overshadowed by the bully called Sambhar.

I enjoy Rasam, everywhere, all kinds of it; from the tangy, very sour Rasam of the Saravana Bhavans of the world, to the slightly sweet Mysore Rasam at Café Mysore, Mumbai and the pseudo-exorbitantly-priced-with-no-character Rasam at 5 star hotels.

As a child, I have vivid memories of my grandmother (who incidentally makes the best Rasam in the whole universe) stirring potfuls of Rasam, when we were sick, travelling, and on joyous and festive occasions. At my mother’s place, Rasam was always an antidote for any ailment. Ginger Rasam for a bad throat, an Ajwain Rasam for stomach ache & upsets, Lemon Rasam to clear the palate after a bout of flu and even a hot & fiery pepper Rasam for a heartbreak were prescribed.

Infact, muligatwany soup, the national soup of Sri Lanka is derived from our very own Rasam or mulagathanni, mulaga-pepper and thanni-water. This versatile dish spiked with vodka makes the most mean cocktail that can leave one begging for more. I sometimes serve Pineapple Rasam, as an appetizer in shot glasses or Lemony Rasam with Vadas dunked in them (very unusual) for my lunch parties, but a hit every time. One of the first solids to feed a child in a South Indian household, is mashed rice with some divine Rasam.

Its poetic justice to me hence, that my son Andy’s Annaprashan, is just 03 months away, and my grandmother will make the most delightful Rasam. Andy’s induction to the world of Rasam is about to begin. SLUURPP !!!!SLUURRPP!! REJOICE

RECIPE FOR GINGER & PEPPER RASAM
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns and ½ inch Ginger with peel (grind them coarsely)
¼ cup Dal water (Any Dal preferably Arhar)
If cooking Dal, just take a couple of Teaspoons of cooked dal and mix them with food, or dilute any leftover yellow dal
½ Tsp Turmeric Pwd
1 Tsp Sambhar Pwd
Salt to Taste

For the Tempering
1 big spoonful of Ghee
1 whole Red Chilli
Handful of Coriander leaves, broken with your hands, including the stems

1. In a large vessel, mix 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, ginger-pepper powder, Sambhar Powder and Salt boil for about 10-12 minutes
2. Add, diluted Dal water and let it cook for 5-7 minutes, till it bubbles over
3. In a small saucepan, heat ghee, and when hot, break and add red chilli, coriander leaves and add it to the Bubbling Rasam.
4.Check for seasoning and Serve Hot
5. Sit Back and Receive Compliments!!!!
Posted by:Rakhi Iyer