Comfort food for someone can be anything from a pot of biryani, a bowl of kheer, plateful of khichdi to chicken curry. But perhaps for most of south India and even beyond the region, it has to be the piping hot rasam. While it is an integral part of any elaborate feast on special occasions, rasam make it to the dining table in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu almost everyday. A shorba-like soup and lentil curry, rasam’s recipe varies in different south Indian homes. For instance, a large number of rasams are made with dal as a base, yet there are some that don't use dal at all. Tamarind, along with cumin, curry leaves and asafoetida, are some of the traditional ingredients in rasam, while something like lemon rasam doesn’t use tamarind at all. 

Known as Saaru in Kannada, Rasam in Tamil Nadu and Kerala or Chaaru in Andhra and Telengana, one thread that binds it all is its consistency, rasam is to east what broth is to west. It has been known to relieve cold and cough too. And has worked for not just us, but even the Britishers during their days. Did you know that mulligatawny soup is essentially a pepper rasam redone with a few more ingredients? With over 200 varieties of rasam, you’ll be spoilt with choice as you move from one region in the south to another. From traditional lime or ginger rasam to the unique and experimental ones like, sweet and sour pineapple rasam, the list is endless.

 

The classic rasam though, works best across most occasions. Whether you have a get-together at home or just want to unwind with a light meal at the end of the day, or are simply unwell, you can always count on the traditional rasam. Tamarind pulp added to boiled dal and simmered with tamarind pulp and roasted ground rasam powder, makes for the ultimate rasam. The powder, besides tamarind, is one of the prime ingredients and is made with peppercorns, red chilli, coriander and cumin seeds, lending a subtle spicy flavour to the tang of tamarind.  

Find the full recipe of quick and easy rasam here. Try it at home and share your experience with us.