No Fuss Spicy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

She lies squinting in the afternoon sun. Looking up at the blazing ball of fire, she defies the curly strand resolutely falling her way. She wonders if hell was right in the middle of the sun. Would she go? Go to hell, that is. Umm.. she has her chances. Spilling milk, tearing pages off a school book or rather any book and stuffing ones mouth with heapfull of sugar does make one go straight to hell. For sure, thought she.
But then like how it is with most six-year olds, her thoughts jump from dreary to the quixotic in no time, wondering if the sun is made of honey or lime or both. The dreamy spell is broken by shrill cries of mother. Lengths of the roof covered in leaps and bounds, spirals of stairs run in twos and threes, the little girl runs blind, her curls flying behind her like a short cape. Huffs and pants, she stands erect and stares straight. A little sentinel to attention.

Flavored with garlic

Flavored with garlic

Mother hid a smile. She knew she was being appeased. Propitiated for those tight hugs and extra kisses, and for those moments when the curls would be delicately touched and taken behind a ear only to fall right back into an eye. For those special moments mother was being assuaged. Mother knew it. And she knew she knew it.

Well today no matter what, lunch will be eaten in peace sans objections, sans tantrums and grimaces, clever mother put out a plate which would have been shunned on any other day. But not today. Not after a morning of mess and shenanigans. And the little sentinel ate silently. The one with the largest sweet tooth, the stuffer of anything saccharine, sugar stealer, ingenious chocolate hider. That one, battled her candied tongue and slurped spicy tangy tomato rasam that day. Quietly. Obediently. Fully unaware that her runny nose needed all that pepper and spice. I know now for sure, coz she is me.

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Cut to present day. And I war with my seven-year old to stop slurping the tangy South Indian soup. It has pepper and garlic and red chiles and its hot and medicinal. I mean, she is supposed to dislike it. All kids do. But here is mine. Sprawled on the floor, demanding more ghee and more rasam in her bowl of soft white rice. It’s close to eight years now, and I still stare at my girl in disbelief. She is so unlike me. Gone on the father, I mutter. Both have an unbelievable palette for spicy tangy tart stuff.

white rice is the best

white rice is the best

Saccharine love has diminished over the years, and rasam which was once gulped like venin, is now savoured with abundant paraphernalia.

Rasam is a South Indian tangy drink usually served with rice and other interesting sides. And if you are ever caught nursing a bad cold or a sore throat then this peppery drink will surely be guzzled down your food pipe… hot ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lentils, lemon, beets are used to make a variety of rasam. But the most common and easiest and popular one is the tomato rasam. The method I use is handed over to me by my brother in laws wife, and it has never been easier to make it since. One of my most favourite ways lately.

that very essential dollop of ghee!

that very essential dollop of ghee!

Make sure you have a potful of hot boiled rice, white or brown. Some ghee to serve. And I usually accompany the meal with some vegetable side like the one shown below. A cabbage carrot beans melange. Dry sautรฉ with a tempering of curry leaves, green chilies and garnished with grated coconut and cilantro.

keep it light and simple

keep it light and simple

I have no idea about the science behind this, but I am making this statement – Food, especially, Indian Food tastes better when you eat with your hands. Its more intimate, more comforting. I can’t explain. It just is. So try it. Learning to use chopsticks was hard?! try scooping off watery rasam from a flat plate with your fingers. That’s art too.

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 red ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped.
  • 1/2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 1 small onion or few baby onions/shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or as per your taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated – optional.
  • coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

In a thick bottomed pan, heat ghee. Splutter mustard seeds. sautรฉ red chili, curry leaves and sliced onions till pink. Throw in chopped tomatoes along with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and fat leaves the sides. Approx 10 minutes. Once that is done, add 1 glassful of water. Give it a boil. Grate garlic and sprinkle pepper powder – give it another boil. Switch the flame off, mix in juice of 1/2 a lime and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot!

Life's good

Life’s good

Note: Quantity of water can be increased or decreased according to the consistency you prefer. I like mine thin and runny, so I usually add more than a glassful.

Note: Tamarind, boiled lentils, rasam powder are all variations. You can try different types by adding these accordingly.

Note: For those who do not like to use onion and garlic, you can skip both, and flavour the soup with a bit of asofoetida or hing.

Eat it hot!

Eat it hot!

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with another main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Gorged on those cookies? Took more than a bite of that super moist Christmas cake? Could not say no to those scrumptious cheesy deep fried appetizers? Pigged out at parties? Drank more than what your self could handle? hmm…

Well, its time to cleanse guys. Detox they call it. To stop the binging. To start the healing. To start another year, fresh and healthy. To make resolutions – which usually don’t last more than a week ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh! We’ll save that for another post.

For now, it’s time to soupify your palette.

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

Luscious Roasted Tomato Soup

What I have here is a simple delicious luscious tomato soup recipe. Light, flavorful and so simple, you will find yourself making it more often than required. Best enjoyed with some home-made croutons or bread sticks, this one is sure a keeper.

I have a little soup lover at home. Along with the love comes the pricky palette which is SO not easy to please. Many of my tomato soup attempts tasted like ‘ketch-up’ to her and she hates ketch up. So, when I tried this particular method, you can imagine me heave such a sigh of relief when the bowl was polished off in no time. And she comes back for more.. yay! That’s my girl!

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

Flavored croutons goes great with some hot soup

The recipe:

To make 2 bowls of soup:

Ingredients

  • 4 red ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized onion
  • 1 tiny potato
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, I used the fresh green variety with stalks.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven at 200 C. Cut all the veggies in circles and arrange on a greased baking tray. Throw in the garlic pods too. Brush all with olive oil. Sprinkle sugar evenly all over the vegetables.

Ready to go into the oven

Ready to go into the oven

Roast all the veggies for 15-20 minutes until roasted and browned. Turn the tray in between for even baking.
Once done, remove. cool. Blend into a smooth fine paste using little bit of water. Be careful not to add too much water, else the soup will be runny.
Run through a sieve. Boil again, check consistency. If too thick, add water or milk accordingly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve hot topped with little cream or cheese.

Best with: Croutons, bread sticks, crostinis or toasted bread.

low cal and super healthy

low cal and super healthy

Note: For those who do not have an oven. Take a wok, heat olive oil in it, saute garlic, onions, potato and lastly tomato, sprinkled with a little bit of salt. Sprinkle some water. Cover and let it cook. Once done, proceed as mentioned in the recipe above.

Note: The potato is added to give volume or thickness to the soup. The addition of potato eliminates the use of thickening agents like cornstarch or flour in milk.

Note: The bits of sugar on the vegetables help in caramelizing the veggies.

Note: To give extra kick to your soup, try adding one tiny green chili to the veggies on the baking tray. Spicy, salty, tangy and a little bit of sweet – all at the same time. Yummy!

For those chilly cold evenings..

For those chilly cold evenings..

Chilly winters call for some of this luscious soup.
So bake it. Make it. Lick it. Love it.

-Namrata

For a Mocktail and a Salad – Get Guava

“You got a dozen of guavas?!!”, I asked incredously.
“They looked sooo good and buying in bulk is any day cheaper…”, mumbled He.
“What bulk… what do I do with so many! How will we finish, and if they turn a little bit ripe.. no one eats… “..my laments were falling on deaf ears, the Bulk buyer was coolly walking off.

When we were little, guava was never given its due. We just took it for granted. It was there. Just like that. Like, always. Abundantly available. Delicious. Healthy. Cheap.
But a few years in a foreign land changed my perspective. Now, I wouldn’t want even one of them going wasted. How ever less we pay, Guava has a priceless tag on it.

Lemony Guava Mint Cooler

Lemony Guava Mint Cooler

Guava Corn Pomegranate Salad

Guava Corn Pomegranate Salad

I stare at them. A bag full of fresh firm green guavas. They look good, I admit to myself. But to finish off twelve of them within a day or two is mind you – is not an easy task! In dilemmas like these, I do what I do best – curiously seek new recipes.

A mocktail and a salad were dished up amidst hectic schedules, annual festive cleaning, dance and swimming lessons. Now will you call my search fruitful? You Will! if you can just lay your hands on some fresh guavas that is ;).

Indian Avacado

Fresh Green Almost Unripe Guavas

Multiple Benefits

Multiple Benefits

Ooh! By the way, did you know guavas contain four times more Vitamin C than oranges? I didn’t. And while weโ€™re comparing guavas and oranges, did you know that a guava has 70 times the amount of fiber as an orange? Interesting isn’t it.

Guava is also rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, E, calcium, copper, folate, manganese, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. They can help your body deal with high blood pressure, constipation, lung congestion, high cholesterol levels, and more. Cool Eh?!

Allright! Back to business. Time for some super simple recipes:

Guava Mint Mocktail Recipe

Serve it chilled

Serve it chilled

Makes 2 glasses –

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized guava, washed and diced
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • rock salt to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey, as you wish

Method

Throw in all the ingredients in a blender along with a cup of water. Blend well till there are no coarse pieces left. Add more water if necessary. Once done, sieve to remove the guava seeds. Taste, season with more lime juice or salt if necessary.

Serve with lots of ice.

Guava Burnt Corn Pomegranate Mint Salad

To Go Salad

To Go Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup deseeded, chopped fresh green guavas, or any guava of your choice
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, I roasted mine on the flame, you could add boiled too
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped mint leaves

For the dressing:

  • Juice of 1 whole lime
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • rock salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • red chili flakes to taste

Method

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients of the dressing. Whisk well. To the dressing, add guavas, corn kernels and pomegranate seeds along with mint leaves. Mix well.

Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Simple and Refreshing

Simple and Refreshing

I could not help myself and post more than one recipe in a single post. Guess old habits die hard. ๐Ÿ™‚

Raw Mango Drink / Aam Panna

Refreshing, cool, lip smackingly delicious and to top it all – nutritious with heat resisting properties… woah!! Yea, this is Aam Panna for you. A raw mango drink incensed with cumin seeds, fresh mint and black salt.

I love black salt. The husband got home a packet of organic black salt, which is coarser and granier than the usual. The taste so raw, fresh and extreme and the color not exactly black, but a deep pinkish purple hue. With cooling properties, it aids in digestion and used as a laxative too.

Aam Panna

Aam Panna

My little girl likes anything sour-lemony. Not one with a sweet tooth, she loves lime juice and loads of “chat masala” on her fruits and salads. My teeth turn sour when I watch her bite nonchalantly into a huge green gooseberry. And raw mango sprinkled with salt and red chili powder is her absolute favorite! Whatever happened to candies, chocolates, ice creams and cakes! The brat’s palette recognizes salt, sour, bitter and pungent but sweet is spat out as if it was unbearable to her tongue. So weird.

Heat resistant properties.

Heat resistant properties.

So, you can imagine, how much she would relish a cool tall glass of this tangy raw mango juice. The spices are smacked and the juice gulped in no time. And I’m not complaining, infact, pleased as a punch, to see the good down her. Sigh! if only milk would be consumed so readily. “Make it taste like panna”, the little monkey says. How I wish I could.

Highly Nutritious

Highly Nutritious

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 small raw mangoes, I peel them and then boil.
  • 6-7 spoons of sugar or according to your taste
  • a small piece of ginger
  • 2-3 tbsp of chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seed powder
  • black salt to taste

Method

Boil the raw mangoes in little water. I used a pressure cooker, for which, 2-3 whistles are enough for the mangoes to boil well and nice.
Remove the seed, pulp the boiled flesh. Add all the other ingredients, saving some chopped mint leaves for garnishing. Churn well in a mixer or use a hand blender.
I added 2 glasses of water and churned again. This is aam panna ready to be served once refrigerated. But what many people do, like my mom – they refrigerate a thick pureed juice with all spices and sugar, and add water accordingly at serving time. So, its really your call. But the drink needs to be chilled. There’s no fun in a tangy, flavorful but warm drink.

So chill it up before taking the gulp ๐Ÿ™‚

A hint of ginger and a dash of cumin

A hint of ginger and a dash of cumin

Hot unbearable summers in India makes it almost mandatory to drink this cooler everyday. The panna prevents heat strokes, heat induced headaches, dehydration and an amazing curative for blood disorders.

Hence dear friends and foodies,
churn it up in the name of health and goodies…Er.. I love to rhyme, hey it’s no crime… What?? I’m wasting your time!?
You know I could answer that and go on, but I love my readers way too much to put them through my pathetic poetry.
So, on that note.
Have a beautiful day!

Namrata

Best way to beat the heat.

Best way to beat the heat.

Health Drink

Cool Slightly chilly winters made me have multiple cups of tea in the mornings. Hectic starts, along with cold weathers were such a maze, that a hot cup of masala chai was my usual and only comfort. But not now.

Summers in Mumbai scream out LOUD. Its only April, and the temperature is soaring to 40 degree celsius already. So, there goes my morning cup of hot chais.

Too hot to handle the tea, I switch to something cool to sip on.

Beet Carrot Ginger Mint Mania

Beet Carrot Ginger Mint Mania

What better way to beat the heat, with natural coolants:

Mint is well known for its supreme curative properties. Great for your digestive tracts, helps in the digestion of fats and is a natural skin benefactor – Yay!! In short, mint makes you thin and pretty. Wow, I love mint.

Beetroot is great for you. We all know that. It has a host of goodness in it, but did you know, that it is a great anti ageing produce.
So out with your Olays and other anti aging creams, adopt Beetroot.

Carrot.. do I need to say anything about this root?.. Remember your granny or your mum goading you to eat the crunchy colored veggie… good for your eyes, good for your stomach, good for your nails….(yuck on your tongue, they forgot to add). The health benefits are many.

Ginger, yumm! This wonderful twisted root is one of my favorite ingredients. Slightest addition of this wonder spice brings life to my bland dinner. I threw it in the drink solely for its strong aromatic flavor. But, mind you, the benefits are plenty.
Ginger is great for digestion(again :))and improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body.

Nutritious Beauty Drink

Nutritious Beauty Drink

To make this magnificent drink, you don’t have to do much.

To make two glasses:

In a blender, throw in one small washed peeled and diced beetroot, one carrot, one tomato, along with a tiny piece of ginger and 10-12 mint leaves. Juice of one whole lime and 1/2 tsp rock salt. Add in a glass of water. Churn well. Strain the concoction.
The juice is bright red and clear.
Drink it up immediately. Avoid keeping the juice for more than 30 minutes. The juiced vegetables release toxins and the color of the drink changes from a bright to dull hue. So drink it up to health and beauty.

A glass full of health.

Stamina Booster.

I avoided the salt and did not strain the juice. The result was this fibre rich viscous liquid. Difficult to drink, but nonetheless, I shut my eyes tight, and gulped it down. Truthfully, its not very tasty, but hey, a natural medicinal beauty and health drink, with stamina boosting properties. Now who would not want to drink this…..? Kids.

Medicinal and Curative Properties

Medicinal and Curative Properties

Mango Milkshake

Mango Mania

Mango Mania

Finishing a glass of milk — a big task for Milee. My mum reminisces, I was the same. I still am. Forever trying new tactics to entice the kid is usually on my To-Do list.

So now, with mangoes in abundance everywhere, I decide to blend this delicious juicy fruit in milk, along with flavors like cardamom or vanilla. The end is drool worthy. Yumm. But Your Highness has to approve the deliciousness of the ambrosia, not me.

Well, lets find out..

For those hot summery afternoons.

For those hot summery afternoons.

I have two variations for you, one with cardamom and the other with vanilla extract. Both burst with distinctive flavors and are as exquisite as the other.
The recipe here is the the one with cardamom and cream, and the vanilla option is explained at the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sized chopped ripe mango, I used Alphonso
  • 1 tall thin glass of milk
  • 1 spoon full of sugar
  • 1 whole cardamom, skin removed, and the pods powdered fresh
  • 4 almonds(soaked and peeled), roughly chopped – optional(I added coz the kid refuses to eat them in real, so I try to hide the good in the yumm)
  • Garnish: a small spoon of fresh cream and 1/2 tsp chopped nuts

Method

Blend the chopped mangoes, with milk, sugar, cardamom and almonds. The result is smooth, thick and almost creamy consistency.
Pour in tall glasses, decorate with fresh cream and chopped nuts.
I have these super cute colorful champagne glasses in non breakable ware. Yay! Milee and her friends love to drink out of them…they look so cool.

I had poured the drink in blue, she made me pour it out into pink…(Good Heavens!! Will the pink mania ever end!??) The kid doesn’t appreciate any bite with her gulp.. so I had to dutifully scrape the decorations I made on the shake.

Plain Mango Milkshake devoid of any garnishing, served in PINK:

Blinding Colors.

Blinding Colors.

The gesture was rewarded with an array of colors:

The crayons get a special place.

The crayons get a special place.

The glass was licked clean, I hit two birds with one stone — Milk and Fruit — gone in no time. Thank you God, for mangoes.

Milee's draws her review.

Milee’s draws her review.

Mango Shake

Mango Shake

For the Vanilla Combo:

Instead of cardamom, use a pinch of vanilla extract and blend with milk sugar and mangoes. Serve in tall glasses with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. I would suggest a big big dollop of ice cream to entice/lure/treat your child.
Now, which kid would refuse or resist this killer combo??!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Baadam Kesar Milk

A healthy start to a beautiful morning!

A healthy start to a beautiful morning!

Almonds are tasty and nutritious. You all agree with this. But how do we make a 6 year old eat it without any fuss. For me, its a battle to make Milee eat this wonderful highly invigorating seed. I have to constantly come up with new innovative ways to steal it into her diet. Today husband asked for some baadam drink, the yellow one — he added. He meant with saffron strands. I decided to make a little more for my daughter too. Lets see if she would drink it. Almonds, Saffron, Milk with a hint of cardamom…. I mean, how heavenly can it get! And will a 6 year old still resist it? That was for me to find out.

You Need –

  • 10 almonds, preferably soaked overnight, peeled and julienned.
  • 4-5 strands of saffron, rubbed in little milk
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • 1 spoon of sugar – optional
  • 1 glass of milk

Method –

Heat milk, add the julienned almonds, rubbed saffron strands, sugar and cardamom. Give it a boil. Pour into a a mug and serve hot.

To make it healthier, use toned milk and avoid the sugar.

Benefits of Almonds –
Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E. Raw almond is high quality protein, a third of which are essential amino acids.They are also rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals and monounsaturated fat, one of the two fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol. Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with cholesterol-lowering properties.

Benefits of Saffron –
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. Its health benefits are many. It helps in digestion, relieves inflammation in arthritis, relief from gas and acidity problems, insomnia, helps in fever, and among the multiple health benefits of saffron are the treatment of asthma, menstrual discomfort, atherosclerosis, depression, whooping cough, and many other health problems.

A cupfull of steamy frothy goodness.

A cupfull of steamy frothy goodness.

Enjoy it with your favourite book.

Enjoy it with your favourite book.