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 rely on ground spice powders, with most satisfying results, but honestly, taking the little extra time to roast some seeds and grind them into a paste or powder is well worth the effort. As is the little time involved to fry up the crunchy tempering. 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 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.
Beetroot RasamMore beet goodness:
3 small beets, left whole and unpeeled
a medium lime-sized piece of tamarind
2 tablespoons of jaggery, or brown sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
For the Spice Paste:
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1 heaping tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
6 dry, hot, red chillies
1 heaping tablespoon of coconut
2 teaspoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 dry red chili, split in half
small handful of dried curry leaves
2 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander leaves
Boil the whole beetroot until tender. Let cool a bit, then peel, transfer to a small bowl and mash. Set aside.
Soak the tamarind in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the juice into another bowl, squeezing as much juice out of the tamarind pulp as you can. Discard the pulp and set the tamarind liquid aside.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the spice paste ingredients, with the exception of the coconut. Stir and fry until the seeds are fragrant - roughly 5 minutes. Add the coconut to the pan, stir and add a few tablespoons of water. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and then grind to a paste. Set aside.
In a medium pot, combine the tamarind juice, jaggery (or brown sugar) and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Now add the mashed beet and spice paste. Add more water if you want a thinner rasam. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the tempering, heat the ghee (or butter and oil) in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to pop, pour into the rasam. Stir and cover and let sit for a few minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves.
Beet, Barley and Black Bean Soup
Beetroot and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Olives
Creamy Beet Borscht
Orange and Beet Soup
And for dessert, Beetroot Cake