Rasam, the Indian Cure For a Cold.
I am a firm believer in healing foods. On the odd occasion that sleep eludes me I head straight for a glass of hot milk loaded with honey and cinnamon. If any of your babies suffered from colic, you will probably still, like me, be having flash backs to those endless sleepless nights when my only comfort came from a cup of strong camomile tea with honey. It calmed both Daniele and I when the going got tough!
Rasam is an Indian soup that is wonderful for clearing blocked sinuses and relieving congested chests when winter colds strike. It’s fiery and hot and sour and is just the ticket when your ‘dose’ just won’t’ clear. There are as many versions of this dish as there are days in the year and this recipe comes from a friend of mine who used to work with me at Childline.
We worked in an old Victorian house in Morningside, Durban and the telephone counselling line was based in an office that rarely saw any sun. In winter, a few hours of telephone counselling in those conditions, coupled with the flu, one needed some instant relief to clear a stuffy nose and thick head. Josh would send a flask of this to us on such occasions.
This South Indian Rasam is quick to make but warms you up instantly and clears your nasal passages rendering you ready and able to carry on for the rest of your day. In Durban you can buy packets of mixed spices (black mustard, whole peppercorns and cumin seeds) ready mixed as this is a common cure all in our parts and ti’s known as King Soup mix.
1 packet of King Soup mix – dry roasted in a pan and ground to a powder (this mix is made up of approx4Tbs of whole cumin,
2Tbs black mustard seeds and 1Tbs whole pepper corns)
1 inch ginger,
4 cloves of garlic,
2Tbs of Dhania / Coriander stems
2Tbs of Ghee or clarified butter
2 dried red chillies
1tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig of curry leaves
½ tsp ground turmeric
2Tbs brown sugar – this is according to my taste preference so adjust to your taste buds
1 block of tamarind, soaked in ½ cup warm water
½ onion finely chopped
6 large tomatoes, blanched and finely chopped or liquidisedif you prefer a smooth soup
I generally use a few fresh tomatoes and a small tin ofpeeled tomatoes.
Place the block of tamarind in a bowl with 1/2 cup of warm water to soak and set aside.
Dry roast your King Soup Mix in a pan and then grind to a powder in a spice mill or, if you are feeling like Superwoman,
in a pestle & mortar.
In a heavy based pot –
heat the ghee/ clarified butter up to a high temperature
Add the dried red chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds and fry for 1 minute.
The mustard seeds
will start popping – as soon as this happens add the onion and fry for one
minute, then combine your roasted ground spices with the finely choppedgarlic, ginger and coriander
stems mixed to a paste with a drop of water and add ½ tsp of ground turmeric.
Fry for a two minutes then add the tomato and 2 – 3 cups of water.
Stir in the drained
Tamarind pulp and season to taste with salt and sugar.
Bring to the boil and
skim any impurities off the top.
Serve, either in a
bowl or a mug topped with some fresh chopped coriander and a few curry leaves.
Patrick, our gardener has been battling flu for a few weeks and he really enjoyed a mug of this to clear his chest yesterday.
It’s hot and spicy and sweet and sour and very comforting. I did some research on the internet and found another recipe that
includes some dhal (lentils) – I have never eaten this version of this dish but am keen to give it a go.
I am sharing some pics of my orchids with you - they live in my garden and thrive in all types of weather.
Every year I am rewarded with magnificent
sprays of different coloured and different types of orchids ….
A girlfriend and I spent last Saturday galloping around the Midlands Meander.
I am so excited that I found this terracota fire stand for my tagine – I have a beautiful pumpkin that Carol gave me from her
garden patiently waiting for some loving – I shall try and build a fire in it today and cook the pumpkin Moroccan style for a hearty winter soup.
Wish me luck!
Have a great day and