By Maria Jacob
As with all Asian households, when it comes to flu season or a pandemic, such as this, every mom, grandma and aunty will come up with their natural cure for the disease depending on their cultural background. Chinese mums will probably start a whole TCM routine at home with herbal teas and sniffing onions to kill germs, the Makcik next door will probably stock on Asam Jawa and cook every dish with it and the Indian grandma will swear by Rasam.
At this point, no amount of reasoning will stop them from going on a rampage with natural herbs and spices and Whatsapp chat cures (with other aunties). Today it was “make a concoction of Moringa leaves and drink it everyday cos’ I saw in Whatsapp that the Cubans use it to heal many diseases” and yesterday it was “boil turmeric, pepper and ginger in water and drink this; nothing will harm you”. All this may be true, but what they forget to mention is that an abundant dose of these natural herbs and spices, while they have fantastic properties, may give you the runs to the toilet if you are not used to it. So let’s break it down to a healthy understanding of this topic.
The example I’m going to be talking about here is a dish many of us are familiar with, has a lot of benefits and is from my side of the woods, Rasam. There has been a lot of hype about Rasam, probably because it has ingredients in it that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and disease-fighting qualities that are necessary for us to keep up our immune system. The ingredients in Rasam which are garlic, curry leaves, pepper, turmeric and other spices are the contributing factors to those qualities. A logical explanation for the hype then, would be that as long as your immunity is strong, your body will be able to fight off diseases better.
How to Consume
There are many ways to incorporate those ingredients in our diet, be it through “Golden Milk” (Milk with a pinch of turmeric and pepper) or stir fried garlic in vegetables and many more. One of the ways to have it is Rasam; it has all the ingredients in it and goes very well with rice. It is like an all in one dish that packs a good immune boosting punch.
Rasam, which means juice, originates from South India and is cooked in many different ways. The base recipe of Rasam is similar in most places, however you can add-on ingredients to adjust the flavor to your preference.
How to Make Rasam
This recipe is my own and is one of the first few recipes I learnt. Every individual’s Rasam is different, even though the base recipe is nearly the same. It’s how you evolve this dish to cater to your own preference that will make each individual’s Rasam taste different. So, on to the recipe.
Rasam (without Rasam powder)
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Serves: 3 to 4 persons.
|Black Pepper||1 teaspoon|
|Turmeric Powder||¼ teaspoon|
|Tomato||2 (medium sized)|
|Curry Leaves||2 stalks|
|Cumin Seeds||1 teaspoon|
|Tamarind paste||1 teaspoon|
|Cili padi||Optional (if you want it spicy)|
|Salt||To taste (¼ teaspoon)|
Blend the above ingredients until it forms a paste.
|Cooking Oil||1 teaspoon|
|Mustard Seed||1 teaspoon|
Method to Cook
- In oil, fry the mustard seed, dried chili and asafoetida.
- When the mustard starts to burst, add in the blended ingredients above
- Add in 3 cups (750 ml) of water and give it a stir. You can cook this on high heat
- When it starts boiling, turn the flame down to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes, at which point, the rasam is done.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or just have it as a soup
There you have it, a quick and simple Rasam recipe that’s yum, nutritious and has natural properties to keep your resistance and immunity up at the same time. Feel free to add in pieces of chicken for chicken rasam, more tomatoes for tomato rasam or even a piece of crab for crab rasam.