Rasam – The Master of The Mind Game
Whenever Vishwanathan Anand wins a match, the old chess board comes out in our house, chess games are played with fervour, strategic moves and traps are discussed and chess books are referred to for the finer touches. From the background, I watch amused, knowing that soon their interest will wane to rise again at Anand’s next victory. In sports played by individuals, winners from India are few and far in between. We had Prakash Padukone and Abhinav Bindra who were at the very top of their field.
And then we have the one and only Vishwanathan Anand – who has defeated every challenger to the throne from 2007 to remain the King of the 64 squares.
And what a thrilling championship we just had in this most cerebral of games. Two veteran gladiators cautious and circling, looking for a chink in the opponent’s armour. And finally the sweet joy of triumph and Anand is champion once more. Viva la Anand!
Rasam and sambar remain two of Anand’s favorite dishes. The English called it Mulligatawny, the Anglicized version of
Milaguthanny – pepper water. Rasam means essence. Rasam,a South Indian preparation, is usually eaten with rice or as a soup by itself. Ayurveda says that all tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent must be included in at least one meal per day, to balance unnatural cravings. And, our taste buds by identifying tastes, unlocks the nutritive values of food and provides the first information to the digestive system.And Rasam combines many tastes.
- Tomato – 4
- Garlic – 3 cloves
- Jeera / Cumin – 1/2 tsp
- Peppercorns – 6
- Hing / asafoetida -1 pinch
- Coriander Leaves – 2 sprigs
- Ghee / oil – 1- 2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric – ½ tsp
- Sugar – 1 pinch
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Dry Red Chilli – 1 no.
- Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
- Oil / Ghee – 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Blanch tomatoes, skin and puree in a blender.
- Dry roast jeera and pepper and powder it
- Crush garlic. Wash coriander leaves and cut it
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a heavy pan. Add powdered mixture, crushed garlic and saute. Now throw in hing and turmeric.
- Saute, pour in the tomato puree and two cups water.
- Allow to simmer for at least 5 minutes till the raw color and smell disappears and a deeper color begins to show.Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add coriander leaves.Take off heat.
- Heat oil. Season with mustard, curry leaves and a broken red chilli. Add seasoning to the rasam. Serve hot.
Boondi Raita – When I was ruminating over the quick recipe, the long forgotten but recently enjoyed boondi raita sprang to mind. Raita is a curd side-dish for lunch or dinner, plain or spiced, usually with cut fruits or vegetables added to it.
Here is a variation. Adding crisp variety to any menu it provides a quick, tasty and decorative support to a meal. Boondis are deep-fried gram flour (besan) balls which can be purchased fresh,and with the curd always in stock, it is just a matter of mixing both, just before serving if you want a crispy feel. For a softer taste, stir boondis and the beaten curd.Throw in a sprinkling of salt, a dash of red chili powder, garam masala powder and a pinch of roasted, powdered jeera.In either case,reserve half the boondis for the garnish. Cut coriander leaves are optional. Chill and serve.
Note – If the raita looks too thick, add milk to dilute it.