Blog post by Anand Kumar R S
Akin to many unresolved conflicts in the world if there is one among TamBrahms – it is the Rasam Conflict! i.e. if Rasam has to be consumed “theliva” or “elakki / kalakki.” And as far as I know the TamBrahm race is split down in the middle on this one! In every family there are those who prefer Rasam only as “thelivu” and others who want it “elakki”! It is almost difficult to fathom what drives this choice.
In a family with 2 kids – it is not surprising to have one preferring “thelivu” and the other “elakina” rasam. Thereby giving opportunity for some cheeky mamas to quip – “Oh ivan Appa Ramendran mela poyirukkaan. Rendamathavan, Amma Paarukutty mela poyirukaan – Ava madiriye elakki thaan Rasam kudikaraan!! – So it may appear that this Rasam preference is something conveyed through the DNA strands or so I thought until I saw a family where both the parents preferred their ‘Thelivu” Rasam while the kids wanted Rasam the other way.
In those days mamas who wanted their Rasam thelivaa would get hyper if served with nalla elakina Rasam! “Enakku rasam thelivaa thaan venam. Intha Kuppai yoda rasathai kottathe!” By the way what he referred as “kuppai” are actually part of the ingredients that transform hot “puli thanni” into Rasam – Paruppu, karuveppalai, and the works!! “Enna mama, Kuppainnu solrel. Paruppu vikkara velaila???” normally falls in deaf ears.
Ushaaraana mamis (by the way most TamBrahm mamis are) when having guests at home, make it a point to ask each guest their preference 1st. “Rasam ungalukku thelivaa vidava illa elakki vidava”?? So that the dining table doesn’t become a Kurukshetram shortly. The problem comes when the choice alternates between elakki and thelivu from one guest to another. Because once the Rasam is elakufied then you have to give it some time to settle down before serving to the next person who wants it thelivaa!!!
The problem usually is amplified when the Rasam made for lunch in the morning is carried forward to the evening for dinner. Because by that time the qty of Rasam is diminished to the extent that it becomes difficult to separate the Thelivu!!! Of course in which case the time tested formula for dilution and thinning of the Rasam by adding hot water and garnishing with some Rasam powder comes into play!!!
In the households of young couples, this conflict is less I believe. Because if the husband insists on one type of Rasam,.. the answer usually is, “Dei, naan inga Rasam panrathe perisu. Onaku thelivu kekkaratha??? If you want then call up Saravana Bhavan and order the Rasam by your specification and drink!” And the husband usually surrenders with,”Ammadi, nee enna Rasam venna pannu. Panninaa sari!
And then there are those Rasam drinking connoisseurs who say, “Mami, Rasatha thelivaa oru tumblerla kuduthudungo. Apparam elaila nanna kalakki vidungo!”
Our Nanu mama has a very practical solution to address this problem. Which is to take out Thelivu Rasam in a separate paathiram as soon as the Rasam is prepared. Which is his 5th law of cooking. For every bowl of thelivu Rasam, you should have an equal bowl of elakkina Rasam!!! So that you can serve easily as per choice of people!!! The only flip side is if both the Rasams minjufy and have to be carried forward, one has to find space for 2 vessels instead of one inside the fridge!!!