Monday, January 09, 2006

Comfort Food South Indian style

Even though I have acquired tastes for different types of cuisines and love food in general, I enjoy South Indian food in my own way. Infact according to hubbie, I eat Southie food with the occasional trademark slurp ( Don't be alarmed, I absolutely don't). But, I agree to the extent that I really savour the taste. I made a modest but extremly heartly meal of Vatral Kuzhumbu, Vazhakkai (plantain) curry, Lemon rasam, plain rice, curd rice to extinguish the flames and salad.

Vatral Kuzhumbu

Every family has their own take on this. Here is one from food blogosphere's Shammi.
Here is how it is made in the old GM house.

Vatral Kuzhumbu

2 ladles oilHeat
1 tsp mustad seeds
1/4 tsp methi seeds
2-3 dried red chillies
Add to oil and crackle
1 cup sliced onion
3 tsp sambar powder
2 tsp rasam powder
Add to oil and fry till fragrance exudes
1 lime sized tamarindExtract 3 cups of juice and add
2 tsp saltAdd
Boil for 15-20 mins or thick consistency

Traditionally as Shammi points out, you use dried goodies (Vatral) that you can get from the Indian stores. In their absence, you can use other vegetables (like I have) onions, brinjal, beans, okra etc, and fry them well in the cooking process. Also, keep in mind that the spices must also cook well until the raw smell is gone. In my opinion, the simplest and best accompaniment to this Kuzhumbu is simple potatoes cooked till crispy in simple seasonings like salt and turmeric. Also, Spinach is another classic accompaniment.

I however decided to cook potato's cousin brother, the plantain.

Vazhakkai (Plantain) Curry
3 plantainsPeel, wash and chop into even bite size pieces
2 tbps oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
Heat oil and crackle seeds. Add chopped plantains
2 tsp salt
pinch asafetida
Scald the plantains. Cook undisturbed for 10 mins
2 tsp curry powder or sambar powderWhen slight browning occurs, add curry powder. Cook uncovered for 5 -10 mins more till desired crispiness obtained

As a wise one has rightly said "Self Restraint solves all problems". I tried to practice it, and didnot harass the veggies, just let them cook in peace, and the results as promised were great.

Lemon (Juicy) Rasam

I love rasam. What a tangy and nutritious meal it makes. There are different types of rasam... my absolute fav is lemon rasam. Apparently when I was young (er), I coined the term 'juicy' rasam meaning lemon rasam. But my suspicion is that Mommie came up with this term, she is always making up cute names to make things sound appetizing. Rasams are also the easiest things in the world to make! Throw in the ingredients, and let the heat do the job. The only smarts needed is NEVER let the rasam boil. It must gently froth just below boiling point.

Lemon Rasam
5 cups water
4-5 green chillies slit
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp rasam powder
big pinch asafotida
1 tomato chopped roughly
Add to stockpot/vessel on medium heat.
1.5 cups cooked toor dalWhen rasam begins to froth, add dal. Let the mixture bubble and froth
juice of 1 lemonAdd
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Add tempering to rasam

There you go. Don't forget to enjoy a nice helping of curd rice at the end of this meal. Here is a great recipe for curd rice by Raji of My Cuisine.


shammi said...

Wow, you and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to comfort food, I think :) I'm going to make your lemon rasam tonight - it's the only rasam I like, I normally dont have rasam at all. And hey, it was nice to get a mention in your post - unexpected and nice! :) Thanks!

Garam Masala said...

Shammi - Lemon rasam is my fav too. I really liked the detailed pics in your entry. So, you're welcome!

sailu said...

I am going to try the lemon rasam too,GM.Thanks for sharing ..:)
Happy Sankranti!

Garam Masala said...

Thanks Sailu! Let me know how it comes out.

Happy Sankaranti/Pongal to you too.

Anthony said...

Nice Rasam says, The bachelor Cook

Kay said...

Never had Lemon rasam so far. Your recipe seems yummy. I should try it sometime soon.

Garam Masala said...

Anthony - Thanks! Its Nice n Easy.

Kay - Thanks. Let me know how it goes when you try it!

Nupur said...

This looks like an awesome meal! Thanks for sharing some great recipes...

Manisha said...

GM, the rasam sounds delicious. Do you use homemade rasam masala or do you have a particular brand that is as good as homemade? I have MTR's rasam powder - what do you think about it?

Garam Masala said...

Hi Manisha,

Thanks for visiting! I use home-made rasam powder, freshly milled from India. I feel there is no substitute for the real stuff.

MTR spices are pretty good, I have used their sambar pow and found it better than other brands. I think you will get good results with MTR too. Hope this helps.

BDSN said...

Hi GM..

I have been reading your blog for quite some time and I would love to try your Lemon Rasam because i love Rasam.Well i seem to have a tonne of recipes to try from various blogs which should keep me busy in the thinking for quite some time...So anyway thanks for posting it..Pls do visit my blog ..

Garam Masala said...

Thanks bdsn! Let me know how it comes out. I also have so many new recipes on my 'wish list', need to keep track :-)

People who touched our lives said...


Good blog.

Just thought of pitching in that if the lemon juice is added when the rasam is hot, then you will end up with a bitter taste. Always better to add the lemon juice after the rasam cools down.


Anonymous said...

Hai friend,
Today i tried ur lemon rasam . It is really so good
Next i am going to try ur vatha kulambu.
Thanks for the good recipes. Have a great day

MAJ K said...

Here is another blog post about Rasam:

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workhard said...

Thats a pretty good recipe...

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