Saaru (Rasam)

This is a recipe straight from my grandmother’s kitchen. We use this recipe to make ’tili saaru’. Tili means watery….water taken by settling the boiled toor dal.

When the toor dal is cooked and mashed, add water to the bowl and let it rest. The water on the top is then used to make saaru and is very nutritious. Saaru is a good appetizer and can be had as a soup or as an accompaniment with rice.

Saaru powder:

1.25 cup – coriander seeds
0.5 cup – Jeera
0.5 cup – Whole black peppercorns
2 tsp – Chana dal
1-1.5 cup – red chilli powder ( to be mixed at the end)

Dry roast all the above ingredients and grind it to a fine powder. Add the chilli powder and mix it well. This powder stays good for many months and can be made in huge batches depending on your consumption.

Tomato Saaru/Rasam:

2 cups – water/water from the dal
2 big ripe tomatoes – blanched, peeled and made into a paste
2-2.5 tbsp – Saaru powder
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
1 tbsp – chopped coriander leaves
Tamarind juice – 2-3 tbsp. Optional. Can be used if not using tomatoes or if you want to increase the sourness quotient
Jaggery – a small lump – Optional

For the tempering:

Oil/ghee – 1 tbsp
1 tsp – mustard seeds
1 tsp- jeera seeds (optional)
A sprig of curry leaves
Broken dry red chillies – 1 or 2 (optional)
Hing – a pinch
Garlic- crushed and chopped – 1 tsp – Optional. Nowadays, I have started adding garlic to the tadka as my husband likes it.

Boil the water in a deep vessel. Add the tomato paste, turmeric powder, saaru powder and salt. Allow it to boil nicely for a good 5 minutes or so. Boiling it well helps impart the flavours into the broth.

Meanwhile, prepare the tempering or the tadka in a small pan. When the saaru is boiled and done. Switch off the gas and add the tempering and the coriander leaves to the saaru.

The saaru is ready to be eaten with soft, hot rice and a dollop of ghee. Mix it well with your fingers to enjoy it the traditional way.

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