RECIPE - PEPPER WATER - Rasam
Pepper Water is pure nostalgia for me. As a child I grew up in an Anglo Indian colony and it was always served on a Friday at lunch time along wth some rice and a fish dish. Perhaps it was the old abstinence from meat on a Friday, for us Catholics, that shaped the menu. Anyway, it was the most delicious thing and I couldn't get enough of it. The umami from the tomatoes the sweet sourness of tamarind, the heat of pepper together with the overriding flavour of curry leaf are the same as a Tamilian Rasam which has its origins in the 16th century. Then came the British, in the 1800s, who added Chicken and vegetables to it and called it Mulligatawny - close to the Tamil for pepper 'milagu' and water 'tanni'. You can tweak the recipe to your taste with veg and or lentils as we did.
- In a large pot, pour in a litre of water (4 cups). Then add in:
- 3 roughly chopped tomatoes,
- 1 tsp pepper powder,
- 1 tsp chilli powder,
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder,
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste,
- 1 tsp salt.
- Bring this liquid to a rolling boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Keep the Tadka ingredients ready:
- 1 small finely sliced onion,
- 1 fat clove garlic finely minced,
- 1 tsp mustard seeds,
- 2 dry chillies (destalked),
- 1 sprig curry leaves.
- Heat a separate casserole dish on medium and add 2 tsp oil or 1 tsp pure ghee and the mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds splutter add the sliced onion, dry chillies and minced garlic. Stir-fry till the onions are translucent then add the curry leaves and the soup.
- Simmer for 3 minutes then turn off the stove. Adjust flavours to your taste - more pepper, sourness or salt.
- Garnish with fresh coriander - lots of it.
- Serve with rice.
You can tweak this recipe to your taste with veg and or 1/2 cup lentils.