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Oct 13

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, Cultural Adjustment Coach
Saturday, October 13, 2007

This column will highlight cultural and social facts about certain foods I feature as recipes on Alaivani.com.  Today I will share some tasty tidbits about rasam.


          In South India, especially in Chennai, where I stayed, rasam was paired with rice known in Tamil as rasam sadam.  This was part of a three course meal, the other two courses being sambar sadam (sambar rice) and thayyir sadam (curd rice), along with curries (side dishes of vegetables). 

          I have noticed North Indians not eat rasam this way, but strain out the pieces and drink it.

          In many American restuaraunts, rasam is known as Mulligatawny soup.  This is a replication of two Tamil words combined meaning pepper (millagu) water (thanni).  Interestingly enough, this soup became more famous after the Soup Nazi episode on Seinfeld.  I found a replication of that recipe on recipezaar.com and was surprised to find that it has chicken stock in it.  In India, I have never encountered rasam with non-vegetarian ingredients.  I am sure it exists, but I am not sure who (especially Indians or those familiar with this dish) would ever associate non-vegetarian ingredients with rasam or mulligatawny soup.  I hope Indian restaurants don’t make it with chicken stock!

          As a natural remedy to a cold or cough, I like to make this and sip it throughout the day.  Ayurveda advises not to have any oil or oil fried foods while your throat is sore as that aggravates the problem.  Some rasams are made by frying mustard seeds and adding it, but the quick oil-free rasam on my site specifically does not have any tempered (called tadka) items so that it can be drunk while having a cold.  Rasam must have some chili spice to clear out congestion in the head, but not too much to make it intolerable to drink.  Rasam powder has ground chilies in it, but I have not added additional chilies for that reason.


      My recipe for Quick Oil Free Rasam.


Sources:  Rasam for the Soul  |  Ayurveda recipes- Rasam  |  Wikipedia - Rasam

Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


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