I'm fighting off a really bad cold and viral attack and went home early from work yesterday, to lie in bed and wish I were dead. Isn't it funny how terrible a relatively simple ailment like a cold can make you feel? In the evening, appa came over with a nice, spicy saaru-soup which was wonderful. Of course, what contributed much more to my feeling of well-being, though not being well, was the fact that he had taken the trouble to make it, and came and spent the evening with me.
Handful coriander leaves
5-6 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lime-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in 1/2 cup hot water for half hour
1 tbsp saarina pudi ( rasam powder) (Recipe below)
1 cup arhar dal, cooked and cooled
3 cups water
Salt to taste
2 tsp ghee
1 handful curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
Pound together the cumin seeds, garlic, coriander leaves and garlic in a mortar until finely crushed.
Put the ghee on to heat in a small wok/ bandley.
Add the crushed ingredients and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Squeeze all the juice out of the tamarind and strain the water into a large saucepan.
Put the tamarind juice on medium heat and cook until the 'raw' smell of the tamarind is gone.
Add the saarina pudi and let it boil, adding a bit of water if the tamarind juice is drying out, until the fine smell of rasam starts drifting out (3-4 minutes).
Meanwhile, blend the arhar dal in the blender until finely pureed.
Add the dal, the water and the crushed ingredients to the tamarind juice and let it come to a rolling boil. Keep it simmering for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.
Add the tempering - for saaru I always prefer ghee rather than oil. Heat the ghee, and add the mustards seeds. Wait for them to pop, then add the turmeric and the curry leaves,and then pop this into the waiting saaru.
Drink hot, with crusty bread on the side or fried papad.
This saaru also tastes good with rice, with a vegetable as accompaniment. I also make a version of this that substitutes dill leaves for the coriander.
200 gms coriander seeds
200 gms dried red chillies
2 tsp each:
Black mustard seeds
White poppy seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 inch piece of cinnamon bark
Handful curry leaves, washed and dried
1/2 tsp turmeric
Roast the coriander seeds and red chillies together in a wok, with a few drops of oil, until the chillies turn bright and shiny. Keep aside to cool.
Roast the next five ingredients, again with a drop or two of oil, until they start giving off an aroma and the mustard seeds and cumin turn brown. Keep aside to cool.
Roast the cinnamon and asafoetida until they too turn aromatic, then add the curry leaves and turmeric and switch off the stove.
First finely powder the coriander-red chilly mix. Keep aside.
Then powder the mustard seeds-cumin seeds etc until fine. Add the curry leaves/ asafoetida mixture and powder again. Finally, add back the coriander-red chillies powder and run the blender again to ensure all the ingredients are well-mixed.
This powder will be a deep maroon-ish colour. It keeps well for up to a year, though it may lose its potency gradually after 6 months. The taste mellows after a few days, too.