Tamarind has a prominent place in Indian Cooking and most South Indian dishes make judicious use of this fruit. It is common to use an extract of tamarind which is added mostly towards the end while cooking Indian food. Here is how tamarind extract is prepared.
Take a small ball of tamarind and soak the same in hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Once this is done, mash and strain the liquid to get a thick extract.
With tamarind extract in hand, making tangy Indian dishes is easy. Begin cooking by soaking the tamarind so that the extract is ready by the time other preparations are made.
Rasam is a spicy Indian soup taken mostly with rice. A compulsory item on the South Indian menu card, rasam helps improve digestion and adds the much needed touch of perfection to a well cooked meal. Most importantly this soup is easy to prepare and can be whipped up in a hurry to make a hearty meal on busy days.
Medium sized tomatoes 3
Garlic cloves 4
Whole black pepper 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1 tbsp
Whole cayenne pepper (Dry red chilli) 1
Mustard seeds ½ tsp
Split black lentils (Urad dhal) ¼ tsp
Asafetida a pinch (optional)
Turmeric powder ¼ tsp
Curry leaves few washed clean
Cilantro (Coriander leaves) 2 tbsp finely chopped
Oil ½ tbsp
Tamarind a lemon sized ball
Salt to taste
Water 2 cups
Prepare tamarind extract following the above mentioned steps.
Chop the tomatoes into small cubes.
Grind the black pepper, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, garlic and curry leaves into a coarse mix without adding water.
Take oil in a pan and once it heats up add the mustard seeds and split black lentils (urad dhal)
When the mustard splutters, add the cubed tomatoes and sauté till it turns soft.
Next add the ground mix and stir for just a few seconds till an aromatic odor emerges.
Now pour the tamarind extract and add asafetida (if used), salt and turmeric powder.
Pour the water to the above and allow the mix to come to a boil.
As soon as the soup begins to boil, switch off the stove (if the soup boils for longer it spoils the taste)
Finally garnish with cilantro (coriander leaves) and serve delicious rasam with hot rice!