Kurumilagu Rasam (Pepper Rasam)

Rasam is comfort food. Steaming rasam with hot rice is an antidote for the body and the mind. Or just drink it as a soup. Pepper rasam, in particular, is wonderful when you are ill. Whether it is a fever, cold or cough, this rasam provides relief.
When I was a kid, my mum used to give us a laxative once a month to clear our stomachs. On that day, she ensured that the food was simple and completely devoid of oil. This was the rasam that was made and served with hot rice and a roasted papadam. Everytime I feel under the weather, Hari makes this rasam. And my mood and energy immediately perks up.

A small lemon sized ball of tamarind
2 tomatoes, chopped roughly (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
2 tbsp black pepper corns (kali mirch, kurumilagu)
1 tbsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste
For The Seasoning
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 sprig curry leaves
5-7 shallots, chopped fine (optional)
2 pods garlic, crushed (optional)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Soak the tamarind in warm water for 10-15 minutes
Extract the juice and discard the pulp
Transfer the juice to a medium sized vessel and add 2 cups of water
Add salt, turmeric powder, tomatoes
Boil for 10 minutes
Meanwhile, crush the pepper corns, cumin seeds and curry leaves (use a blender or mortar and pestle)
Add this crushed spices to the tamarind water
Stir well and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes more
Heat a wok and add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add asafoetida, shallots, garlic and curry leaves
Saute till the shallots are a brown colour
Add this to the rasam and remove from flame
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve hot with rice and roasted papadam or just drink it as a soup!

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