Blog post by Ganesh Jeyaraman
‘Aathukku poi our rasam vachu appalaam suttu saapta thaan nimmadhiaa irukkum’ (‘I will feel relieved only if I return home & treat myself to some rasam & sutta appalam’). This is a refrain one often hears from our uncanny mamas & mamis. This rasam is such an integral part of our metabolism that we just cannot do without it. However, is the rasam really as humble as it’s made out to be?
Firstly, I’ve realized that there are just so many varieties of tambrahm rasams. From the routine paruppu rasam, thakkali rasam, Kottu rasam, melagu rasam, elumichampazha rasam to the recent more exotic ones like pineapple rasam, mango rasam, – the list never ends! Secondly & most importantly, I’ve realized that the quality of someone’s rasam can single-handedly determine what a great (or poor) cook she is (mostly, it’s she only – let’s accept & embrace that guys!) – And it’s not easy at all to get it fully right. You shouldn’t let it boil too much, the tomatoes should not feel raw, the asafoetida level should be just right, thaalippu should feel fresh & last but not the least, the right amout of corriander. Phew – it sounds as simple as bringing a couple of things to boil on an eeya chombu but it’s quite far away from just that!
The most annoying part however is the constant quibble from mamas saying ‘Enga ammavoda rasam ammovada rasam thaan. Andha maari innum nee vekka kathukaliye!’ (My mom’s rasam is my mom’s rasam. You haven’t learnt it that well yet’). And it’s a lost battle to try & replicate someone else’s rasam because once you try to ape someone else’s rasam & ask them for the recipe – you will realize that most of their way of cooking is not based on any measurements. Everything is estimated, everything is based on kai pidi s (a handful), everything can be adjusted a bit here, a bit there! But how is this rasam said to be ‘perfect’? Oh the fascinations of us long tounged people!