What is Rasam?

Curry leaves are a green vegetable found is rasam.

Rasam is a dish that originated in South India, but has since become common throughout India. It is usually made as a watery soup, with a flavor that leans towards sour. Traditionally, it is the second course of a South Indian meal, preceded and followed by rice dishes.

Depending on the region, the dish can have a variety of names and meanings in multiple languages. In its original language, Tamil, rasam is translated as “juice”, while the Kannada language translates the word as “essence”. Iyengars, or the Brahmins of the Tamil region, knew the dish as “chaathamudhu”, loosely translated as “ambrosia”. The dish is also called “pulichaar” by the elderly South Indians, a word that means “pie”.

Toor dal is normally one of the main ingredients of sambar.

The soup was said to have originally had tamarind and pepper as its main ingredients, as these were once plentiful in southern India. In the end, the variations that emerged from the original version had one common factor: acidity. To get that tangy flavor different acidic fruits are used such as tomato, lemon, lime and pineapple. Different spices like ginger, mustard seeds and cumin can also be used to achieve this sour effect. Some versions of the soup even use whole cane sugar, or brown sugar, for a sweeter flavor.

Rasam is a dish originating in southern India.

Aside from sour fruits, another main ingredient in rasam is lentils, or “dal” in India. Lentils add body and texture to the dish and are sometimes used to cut some of the sourness or tangy flavor of the soup. Sometimes the dal is mashed to make the soup less watery. Rasam is essentially a vegetarian soup, so different green vegetables can be added, such as curry leaves, cilantro, and cilantro. Peas also accompany lentils and provide a differentiated texture.

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Other rasam ingredients that are distinctly Indian are curry, turmeric, and asafoetida. Coconut milk, which usually goes well with curry seasoning, can also be included in the soup. A packaged rasam powder that combines the flavor of all the spicy ingredients is available in many supermarkets.

Rasam offers many health benefits, like a good dose of vitamin C from acidic fruits and vitamin A from tomatoes. Leafy vegetables provide fiber, folic acid, and magnesium, while tamarind aids in proper digestion and lowers cholesterol. Soup lentils also provide protein, especially for people who are not getting enough protein from meat.

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