Rasam, a soup like preparation made out of tamarind extracts and simmered with various spices such as cumin and pepper, with tomatoes adding a touch of sweetness, is a regular fare among southern Indian cuisine. Rasam is served over plain rice and is had with a dry curry on the side to make a complete meal. At traditional lunches/ dinners served on special events, like weddings, rasam is served as a second course and follows sambar, its thicker and heavier cousin. For those that do not want to have rasam with rice, this can be had just by itself, piping hot, as a light soup.
One variation of rasam uses pineapples in the rasam instead of tomatoes. Adding pineapple subtly changes the taste of the rasam giving it a more fruity and exotic touch.The concept of pineapple in rasam was first introduced to me by my aunt K. She made it when we visited her and I thought it was an interesting and delicious twist to the usual rasam and I started making my own variation of pineapple rasam since then. Try this if you are looking for something light and nourishing or if tomato rasam or milagu rasam have lost their charm and you are looking for something different :-)
Ingredients and Method to make Pineapple Rasam
1/3 cup Split red gram lentil (also known as Pigeon peas) (Tur dhal)
small piece of tamarind (size of a marble)
Extract about 1 3/4 cup of tamarind juice from the tamarind
salt to taste
1 1/2 to 2 tsp rasam powder (or according to taste) ( available in Indian groceries)
pinch of turmeric powder
1 1/2 cups of crushed pineapple with juice ( I used Dole crushed pineapple no sugar added)
1 1/2 tsp clarified butter (ghee)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
a dash of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
handful of cilantro cut fine for garnish
Pressure cook the red gram lentil with just enough water to cook (about 1/4 cup water approximately)
Or alternatively cook the red gram lentil on a stove top until very soft and mushy. Keep aside.
Soak the tamarind in microwave safe bowl with about 1/2 cup of water. Place the microwave safe bowl with tamarind and water in the microwave and heat on high for about 10 seconds. Press the tamarind with the fingers and extract the juice from it and pour into another bowl or container.Pour another half cup of water on the tamarind and repeat this process another couple of times. This yields approximately about 1 3/4 to 2 cups of tamarind juice. Discard the tamarind pulp and seeds.
Alternatively soak the tamarind in water for about 45 minutes and extract the juice two to three times without heating. Discard the tamarind pulp and seeds.
Place the tamarind water in a heavy bottomed pan and add salt, rasam powder, turmeric and let it boil. When it starts to boil, lower heat and add crushed pineapple with juice to this and let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the tamarind loses its rawness and the pineapple absorbs the spices a little.
Add the mushed soft lentil to this, add some more water according to your preference and consistency required and simmer for another minute or so.
Heat clarified butter in another pan, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds to it. When the mustard seeds and the cumin seeds start to splutter add the clarified butter with the mustard and cumin to the rasam.
Garnish with cilantro and serve hot on top of plain rice and cabbage curry on side or as a soup.