Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Week Without Wheat #1: Tomato Rasam

My mother was visiting all last week. She makes cooking . . . difficult.

The list of food items she is allergic to includes, but is not limited to:
Wheat, barley, rye, peanuts, lentils, milk, cheese, butter – all dairy but eggs actually - soy (beans, sauce, tofu, etc.), corn (including corn syrup and corn oil), beans (from green to kidney) . . .
When confronted with such a list, even the most hard-bitten waiter blinks in astonishment. Fortunately, I'm a girl who likes a challenge.

So here is the first of the Mother-Friendly recipes, one of my very favorite soups: a tomato rasam from India. (A rasam is a thin and overwhelmingly zestful soup). It takes literally 10 minutes to make; however, in the tradition of Indian cooking, it requires about twelve-dozen spices.

Tomato Rasam
Makes enough for 2

2 cups water
2 large tomatoes, chopped (more is perfectly wonderful)
1 tsp minced ginger (don't add too much of this – a little goes a very long way)
1 garlic clove (again, go crazy on the garlic)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp oil (olive or canola)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 whole red dried chilies
1 Tbsp unsweetened, shredded coconut

Boil the water in a large saucepan and add the other tomato and the ginger. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, puree one of the tomatoes and the garlic in a blender. Add the puree to the simmering broth, along with the curry powder, cumin, pepper, and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

While it simmers, heat the oil in a separate pan. You're going to cook up the last of the spices to make them fragrant and happy. Add the mustard seeds and cook over medium heat (covered!) until the little devils start to crackle. Then add the red chilies and the coconut. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the coconut turns a light brown. If it looks like a weird little glob of coconut-paste, you're on the right track.

Scoop the coconut-oil-mustard blob up and add it to the simmering soup. Stand back, it will sizzle. Stir it all up and serve it immediately.

1 comment:

ellen said...

And I thought my mother was...difficult. Have you checked out's some great info there and a nifty cookbook as well.