I left some of the harvested cherry tomatoes on the kitchen counter. Waited a week. When they ripened to deep red, soft to touch stage, I prepared one of my favorite tomato recipes, the traditional tomato-garlic rasam of Nandyala. The rasam has all the usual and lovable characters- the ripe tomatoes, garlic and Indian spices and no gimmicky substances like store-bought stock, ‘enriched’ flour or loads of butter. One thing the rasam demands is that we put some energy into it. No machines, just using our God-given hands. For the effort, the tomatoes richly reward us with their bold, exquisite essence making the rasam tasting a memorable experience.
Homegrown Cherry Tomatoes
Tomato Garlic Rasam from Nandyala
(for 2 to 4 meal portions)
Prepare the rasam only with burst on touch, water balloon like very ripe tomatoes.
Tomatoes: Take 10 very ripe cherry tomatoes or 2 vine-ripe tomatoes in a big bowl. Chop them coarsely into the bowl. Add a tablespoon of tamarind pulp and a fistful of fresh cilantro leaves. Add a cup of water. Using your clean hand, gently squeeze the ingredients together to extract the juicy essence. Pull up a chair, sit and patiently do it at least for five minutes to bring out the best. Pour the juice through a filter into a bowl, repeat the process one more time and discard the squeezed out pulp.
Garlic : In a mortar, (no blenders, please) take a peeled, plump garlic clove. Add 4 cloves, a tablespoon of coriander seeds, quarter teaspoon each – cumin seeds and black peppercorn. With a pestle, crush the ingredients to smooth paste without adding any water.
Tomato-Garlic Rasam: Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a vessel. Add and toast a sprig of curry leaves, a pinch of cumin seeds to fragrance. Add the tomato juice from step 1 and garlic-spice paste from step 2. Sprinkle a quarter teaspoon each- turmeric and salt. Stir in a tablespoon of crushed jaggery and a cup of water. Mix well. Bring the rasam to boil and then simmer for about five minutes.
Serve the tomato-garlic rasam warm in a bowl. Bursting with tomato essence and in bold red, the rasam is great to sip on its own or to eat with cooked rice.
A Bowl of Tomato-Garlic Rasam ~ for Meal Today