The Rise of the Rasam
The best example for an oxymoron is probably a homemade rasam that is utterly simple yet ultimately delicious.
It is such a revered delicacy like those friends who stand by you at your lows as it fits perfectly into a full course meal but also tops the list as the go-to food when you fall sick, even when the taste buds are numbed.
The King of Soups
For those who are new to the traditional South Indian cuisine, it is common to introduce the Rasam as a soup, but in reality, it is much more than that.
This tasty concoction of spices has both medicinal values and a heavenly aroma, making it an all-time favourite for all age groups. This simple and easy-to-cook dish is probably one of the recipes tried by beginners and there is a general belief that one is not a good cook unless they make a good rasam.
The Divine Dive into Flavours
A traditional rasam is predominantly a pepper broth made with tamarind pulp and tomato. However, there are many varieties of rasam ranging from Tomato rasam, Paruppu rasam, Milagu rasam, Lemon rasam, Mysore rasam to Pineapple rasam, Kollu rasam, Beetroot rasam, Orange rasam, and what not!
A simple home-made rasam, with a mild spicy tempering in ghee, mixed with steamed rice and blended with hand to perfection is all the comfort you need after a tiring day.
The Ever-Evolving Spicy Brew
Rasa, a Sanskrit word meaning extract/juice is considered to be the origin of the name Rasam (Tamil) which is also called Charu (Telugu) and Saaru (Kannada).
This gut-friendly recipe was found by a cook named Karunas in Madurai in the 16th Century. It is believed that the King’s son fell sick and refused to eat anything. So, the King announced a prize to anyone who would cook something that the prince would love to eat. And thus was invented our go-to saviour when we fall sick.
This humble dish holds the potential of combos that are mind-blowing and serves as an instant tasty remedy for itchy throat or indigestion. No wonder this became a hit in America when award-winning chef Arun Rajadurai from Princeton gave it as a complimentary dish for CoVid-19 patients. This new immunity booster to the American diet spiked up the order to around 500-600 cups per day.
According to food historian and author KT Achaya, the British Colonials adopted the rasam as a pungent soup and Mulligatawny, derived from the Tamil words Milagu and Thanni meaning pepper and water. This recipe went on getting featured in The Soup Nazi, the 116th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfield, and in the Homestar Runnercartoon experiential film. After being made a part in the comedy sketch Dinner for One, rasam made a remarkable entry in the German cuisine too.
And thus, this simple dish has travelled across the world undergoing many additions and deletions and yet holding the roots of where it originated, in our very own land.
A truly deserving dish, that is versatile and ever-evolving, catering to the tastebuds of people around the world is our own gama gama rasam that our moms and grandmoms effortlessly prepare, is more than a recovery food for sure.
Fell in love with rasam all over again? Which is your favourite rasam? Share with us!