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What does Rasam mean?
Rasam /Saaru / Chaaru is a thin watery soup of South Indian origin. It is traditionally prepared using tamarind extract/juice as a base, with an addition of tomatoes, chili peppers and spices like cumin and coriander seeds as seasoning.
This soup like dish can be spicy, at times mildly sweet, flavorful and tangy. This comforting and humble soup provides a lot of medicinal value as it is simmered with spices.Be it to get rid of the cold and cough you caught during wintery months or to aid in easy digestion, this South Indian soup fits the bill completely!
Steamed lentils may be added along with any choice of vegetables to the rasam to make it more nutritious.
Rasam in Sanskrit( language of ancient India) means “juice”. It can refer to any juice, but in South Indian homes rasam commonly refers to soup prepared with tamarind or tomato juice which is then garnished with spices.
What course of a meal is rasam consumed in ?
South Indian traditional food, which is largely non-greasy, consists of cooked rice usually served with sambar, rasam, dry and/or curried vegetables, and yogurt/curd. Rasam is mostly eaten with rice and rarely separate as a spicy soup. In a traditional South Indian meal, it is preceded by a sambar rice course and is followed by curd rice.
Rasam, thus occupies the second course in a South Indian meal. It is usually eaten with hot steaming rice and papadum( a South Indian lentil based cracker or disc shaped chips). Few consume it before a meal as a soup owing to its thin watery consistency which supposedly aids greatly in digestion .
What are the different types of rasam?
You can make any number of instant rasam’s if you have your homemade rasam powder ready. I prefer homemade spice powders, since the aroma from freshly made spices taste better then the one’s sitting in the store aisle for months together.
How does Rasam aid in digestion ?
All its variations contain tamarind juice as their base, which is rich in dietary fiber and non-starch polysaccharides. Tamarind fruit exhibits laxative effects due to its high quantities of maleic acid, tartaric acid, and potassium bitartrate.
This eases bowel movement and soothes the digestive system hence it is widely used for the relief of constipation.
Health Benefits of Rasam :
- Prevents constipation- It contains tamarind juice as its base, which is rich in dietary fibre or non-starch polysaccharides like mucilage, pectin, hemicellulose, tannin and gums. This adds bulk to the food and eases bowel movement. Thus, easing constipation.
- Has antioxidant property- The ingredients in it, especially tamarind, is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants protects the body against attack of free radicals. This also helps in keeping the skin young, supple, and healthy.
- Good for convalescing patients – The nutritious properties and its fluid consistency make it an ideal food for convalescing patients. The addition of lentils and vegetables further increases its protein and nutrient value .
- Good for pregnant women- Pregnant women will also find it to be a good meal because it provides essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins. It is also easy to digest , thus preventing constipation which is a larger problem in pregnant women.
- Good for introducing baby to solid food- Babies can be introduced to it, as their first solid food because it is easily digestible as well as tasty. Semi-solid food is the best type of food for a baby who has recently been weaned off mother’s milk.
- Rich in vitamins- It is rich in essential vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, and riboflavin. Some of these vitamins act as antioxidants as well, keeping the body healthy.
- Contains a wealth of minerals –Being a fairly good source of minerals, it is an ideal food for people to include in a balanced diet. Potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, copper and magnesium are the minerals provided by a single serving of this delicious soup.
- Helps lose weight- The black pepper in the it, aids in the body to lose weight. It promotes removal of toxins by making the body sweat and acting as a diuretic. The body’s metabolism is thus kept in perfect rhythm.
- Helps keep cancer at bay – Regular consumption of it, may help keep cancer away. The black pepper present in it contains piperine, which has been found to have an inhibitory effect on cancerous cells, along with the curcumin found in turmeric that is used in making it.
- Encourages digestion –It plays the primary role of promoting digestion. Its black pepper content ensures that the stomach is signaled to produce more acid. This helps digest food, such as proteins better, and prevents flatulence, indigestion, gas, constipation, acidity and diarrhea.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know all about “How to make a perfect “rasam” and what ingredients go into it, I hope you give it a try.
When you give my recipe a try, take a quick picture and share it with #stirringmyspicysoul on your social media with friends and family, to encourage others like you.