Sheera milagu rasam

The original Mulligatawny (milagu tanni – Tamil for pepper water). Eat with rice and dal, or just drink as soup on a cold day or when you are feeling poorly. This is supposed to be very good for colds, and for the stomach. My mother’s recipe. You can make the podi (powder) up ahead and store it in an airtight jar. It would probably keep a really long time in the freezer. I’ve stored it on the counter for months now, with no noticeable change in flavor.

For the podi (powder)

You need: 1/2 cup toor(arhar) dal; 1 tbsp peppercorns; 1/2 cup curry leaves (loosely packed); 1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera);

How to: Roast the arhar dal (wipe it well prior to roasting, don’t wash it and roast it wet) until it is a light golden-brown. Keep aside. Roast the peppercorns (you might want to keep a splatter screen handy). Keep aside. Roast the curry leaves till completely dry. Keep aside. Roast the cumin – don’t let it darken. Grind everything together into a fine powder and bottle.

For the rasam

You need: 1 tsp tamarind paste, salt to taste, 1 – 1.5 tsp sheera milagu rasam podi (above); 1 few curry leaves, a pinch of hing (Asafoetida, Ferula assafoetida); 1/2 tsp mustard seeds; 1 tsp ghee

How to: boil the tamarind paste in 3-4 cups of water, with salt. Add the podi (powder) and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat. Heat ghee in a small pan. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and hing . Let it sputter, then add it to the rasam.