I got married pretty young, at least way earlier than I thought I would. Since TH is from a different community, they did have a few reservations about me and how I would fit into the 'good South Indian daughter-in-law' bracket.
Though I am Mangalorean and was brought up in Bangalore, since most of my family is in Bombay, they did not consider me South Indian enough and they just assumed that a working girl from Bangalore would not cook, and definitely not their kind of food.
I got married in Chennai and two days later, we had a wedding reception in Bangalore. The whole family was there. While most of the gang went out shopping and visiting, TH's grandmother was at home, since she was too tired with all the travel. I, being the new bride, was all eager to please and stayed back to take care of her and I guess I was really done with shopping and socialising for a year at least !
I barely knew any cooking at that time, except for some fancy sounding dishes and maybe an egg burjee, but I knew that rasam was considered healing food, when you are a bit under the weather. I made some for her and Paati (grand mother in Tamil) relished it with some steaming hot rice. By the time the rest of the gang got back, she had had her nap and was really refreshed.
The first thing she told them was that I make great rasam, even better than what a Tamilian daughter-in-law would ! Can't tell you how much that meant to me - all the apprehensions of whether or not I'd really be truly accepted, disappeared thanks to this humble rasam. For me, its more than just something you have with rice, it was the first step to establishing a relationship with the in-laws...
There are so many varieties of rasam and so many variations, but this is one of my favourites. It still tops as comfort food for us, and is on the menu at least once a week. Had this for lunch over the weekend, with rice, pumpkin erissery and banana chips
Food, seriously, is the best way to anyone's heart !
What you need -
1/4 cup tur dal
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
2 tsp rasam powder (any brand would do, I used a local one from Bangalore)
a few sprigs of coriander leaves
4-5 pepper corns
1/2 tsp jeera / cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
1 tsp oil
salt to taste
What you do with it -
Pressure cook the dal with about 3/4 cup water. It needs to be really soft and mushy
Add the cooked dal in a vessel with 3-4 cups of water
Chop the tomatoes into 4 or 8 pieces, depending on how large the tomatoes are and add it to the dal
Add the rasam powder and bring it to a slow boil, till the tomatoes are cooked well
Add salt and coriander leaves
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, jeera and pepper to a coarse paste
For the seasoning, in a little oil, add asafoetida and mustard and allow it to splutter. Then add the crushed paste of jeera-garlic-pepper
Add the seasoning and take the rasam off the heat
Cover for 5 mins and then serve with hot rice