When I first starting cooking Indian, shortly after my transition to a vegetarian diet, my focus was mainly on dishes common to the Northern region. As I became comfortable with the cooking techniques and ingredients commonly used, I started experimenting more, coming up with fusion style dishes. Lately I'm captivated by traditional south Indian cuisine, and Chandra Padmanabhan has certainly been an inspiration and helped expand my culinary horizons. Dakshinwas my first introduction to her recipes and so impressed was I with the results, I hunted down a copy of Southern Spice. My copy arrived a few weeks back and this cleansing beetroot rasam stood out right away.
Traditionally served as the second course of the meal after thick and spicy sambars, rasams are generally soupier and thinner, commonly made up of fresh spice powders, tamarind, tomatoes and lemon or lime juice.
I do often rely on store-bought ground spice powders with satisfying results, but taking the little extra time to roast some seeds and grind them into a paste or powder at home is well worth the effort. As is the little time involved to fry up the crunchy seed and chili tempering for this rasam. As Ms. Padmanabhan reminds us, "mastery over seasonings can make all the difference."
My version is a thicker rasam that I served for a one-course dinner with hot fresh cooked white basmati rice mixed with some of my tamarind chutney. On the side, the rich green leaves from the beets, dressed with a small minced shallot, juice from half a lemon, a few splashes of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.
I might add this rasam would be an ideal appetizer too.
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Adapted from Southern Spice
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on April 12, 2009
Colorful south Indian soup of sweet roasted beets simmered with fragrant and spicy seasonings
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