Recipes: Ginger Pepper Rasam

GG had been on this Hallyu craze recently and wanted to eat Bingsu at a newly opened shop at the food court near our home. I accompanied her and BB. All I did was take a few bites from them but came down with a sore throat almost immediately! My solution was to make a traditional pepper rasam to which I added some ginger, both which are good for throats. You can also have this as a soothing soup when you are sick or when it is cold and rainy outside.

Ginger Pepper Rasam


  • 1 cup Toor dal, washed and cooked till it is soft and mushy
  • 1 small lime sized tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then the juice extracted
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp jaggery (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish


  • Blend together the peppercorns, dried red chillies, ginger and 1 tsp cumin seeds with 1 tomato into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Smoosh the tamarind and drain the water into a pot along with the cooked dal.
  • Chop the other tomato into quarters or eights and drop it into the pan.
  • Boil for a while till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, around 5-7 minutes.
  • Now add the blended paste along with salt and jaggery and let it boil till the tomatoes are completely cooked. Switch off the gas and start the tempering.
  • In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and when hot, add the mustard and balance cumin seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves and asafoetida and stir before pouring it into the rasam.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot as an accompaniment to rice or as a soup


  1. If you don’t have jaggery, you can use sugar instead or even omit it completely.
  2. If you don’t have tamarind, you can either use 1 tbsp tamarind paste (which you can get at any Indian store) or use lemon juice. If using lemon juice, add it according to taste at the very end, just before serving.
  3. If you are planning to have this as a soup, omit the dal and follow the rest of the recipe.

Recipe: Rasam Soup

Over the weekend, GG fell sick with a sore throat as she had been busy in school with rehearsing for the Singapore Youth Festival as well as rehearsals where she was emceeing an event in school. So on Saturday evening, she asked for some soup as well as rasam to soothe her throat.

I checked recipes for soups, but nothing really looked exciting, so then I decided to combine a rasam which is meant to soothe an illness and make it into a soup. I called this a rasam masquerading as a soup! This had all the goodness of all ingredients good for you and was spicy and yum!

Rasam Soup


  • 1 small lime sized ball of tamarind or 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies
  • 1-2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4-5 garlic pods
  • 1-2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 medium sized tomato
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 curry leaves


  • In a large bowl, cover the tamarind with warm water and keep aside for 20-30 minutes. When the pulp is soft, squeeze it and get all the tartness out of it. Discard the pulp and strain the water and keep aside. Add this to a pan and add 2 cups of water (more or less depending on how sour you like it to be). If using tamarind paste add it to around 2 cups of water in a pan and keep aside.
  • In a blender, blend the garlic, ginger, tomato, peppercorns, dried red chillies and cumin seeds to a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Heat the tamarind water and add salt and half the asafoetida and let it boil for a while till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • When the liquid is nicely boiling and the raw smell has gone, add the blended paste and stir well. Add salt if needed and let it boil for another 7 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water and when it starts to boil again, remove from the flame.
  • This step is optional. In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and when warm, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves plus the balance asafoetida. When it pops, pour it over the soup.
  • Enjoy the hot, spicy and garlicky soup!

Recipe: Pooshnikai Kootu aka Ash Gourd Stew


Another typical tambram food, which I made for the first time for the sumangali pooja. This was really good with a medley of tastes. A keeper which I plan to make often.

Pooshnikai Kootu aka Ash Gourd Stew



  • 1 medium sized pooshnikai or as gourd, chopped into small pieces with the seeds and fibres removed
  • 3/4 cup toor dal or red gram dal, cooked with a pinch of turmeric till mushy
  • 1/3 cup chana dal or bengal gram dal, cooked with a pinch of turmeric
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 1.5 tsps bengal gram dal
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 4-5 tbsps grated coconut
  • a lime sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and the pulp squeezed and the juice removed and kept aside. Alternatively use 2-3 tsps of tamarind paste
  • 2 tsps oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal or black gram dal
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  • In a large pan, take the chopped ash gourd and cook it with just enough water to cover the vegetable. Add some salt and turmeric powder.
  • When the ash gourd is half cooked, add the juice of the tamarind and let it cook till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • In the meantime, in another pan, with 1 tsp oil, fry the bengal gram dal,  coriander seeds, dried red chillies and the coconut until the coconut looses all it’s moisture and becomes dry. Blend this coconut mixture into a smooth paste. Add a bit of water if needed to do this.
  • When the ash gourd is cooked, add the cooked toor dal to the ash gourd and let it mix well. Bring it to a boil and then add the blended coconut paste and let it boil for around 5 minutes
  • In a seperate pan, heat the balance oil and when warm, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, curry leaves and red chillies and stir for a few seconds till the urad dal is brown the curry leaves are crisp.
  • Season the kootu with this and remove from the gas. Serve hot with a rice of your choice or any flatbread.


Recipe: Puli Inji aka Sweet Sour Ginger Chilli Sauce/Pickle

img_6105An essential part of a Tamil brahmin wedding feast, Puli Inji is one of my favourite parts of the fest. Sweet, Sour and also slightly spicy, I love this dish, and always want more, though the servers would only put a small tsp in each banana leaf.

The other day, with a whole bunch of ginger at home, I was wondering what to make which will use the ginger up and then decided to make some puli inji. I make a slight change to the traditional recipe. In the traditional recipe, the chilli and ginger are chopped into tiny pieces, while I blended it up so the end result was more chutney-like than a gravy-like which is how it is usually made. This recipe can be stored for a couple of weeks when refrigerated.

img_6107Puli Inji aka Sweet Sour Ginger Sauce


  • 1 cup ginger, peeled, chopped and ground into a rough paste
  • 1 cup green chillies, peeled, chopped into a paste
  • 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2-3 tbsps of grated jaggery (more or less depending on the spice intensity of the chilli plus your spice tolerance)
  • Salt to taste

To be ground into a powder

  • 1 tbsp Urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves

For the seasoning

  • 1-2 tbsps Gingelly oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida



  • Soak the tamarind in hot water and keep aside for 30-45 mins. When it cools, smash it well and extract all the juice. Throw the pulp and reserve the tamarind water. You can also use store-bought tamarind paste and use a couple of tsps for this recipe.
  • In a dry pan, dry-roast the urad dal, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves till they become brown and crisp. Keep aside to cool completely and then grind this into a fine powder.
  • In another pan, add the oil and when it warms up, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Now add the asafoetida and stir for a couple of seconds. Next, add the ginger and let it brown. Now add the chilli and let that cook for a couple of minutes.
  • When the ginger and the chilli are brown, add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder, salt and let it come to a rolling boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling, add the jaggery and the ground powder and let it come to the consistency that you want and switch off the flame.
  • The mixture will thicken as it cools, so do switch off the flame before it reaches the final consistency you want.

img_6106Yummy Puli Inji is ready. This is great as a side to any south Indian dish as well as a chutney for bread. You can also use this as a dip.

If you want a more textured dish, chop the ginger and chillies and then make it as per the recipe.