RAsam is equivalent to chicken soup for many South Indians. It is usually sour from tamarind and tomato, but is also gravy, spiced, and herbal. All of these qualities make it rejuvenating and refreshing: I feel as if I can see more clearly after taking it. My paint has the same basic qualities as the original, but I have adapted it to the cooler weather in Britain. I gave it more substance using split peas and sweet pumpkin, which means it can be eaten on its own or with rice – as opposed to part of the main meal, which is the way it would be eaten in India.
To reduce cooking time (and energy bills), soak peas before going to bed the day before cooking. If you forgot, you can still do this, but you will need to increase the cooking time of the peas to 90 minutes. If you can’t find hearty pumpkin, use pumpkin or butternut squash instead.
to equip 5 minutes
soak 6 hours +
cook 1 hour 10 minutes
200 grams of split yellow peas
1 x 900 grams of pumpkin (I used a deli, but any will do)
Neutral rapeseed oil
Sea salt is fine
1 teaspoon of black mustard
Half a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 x 400gm canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons (30 g) tamarind paste – I’m using Thai bait
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
Half a teaspoon of turmeric
2 cloves of garlicPeeled and cut into thin slices
2 green pepperincision
Basmati rice and fresh corianderto serve
Put the peas in a large bowl, wash them well in a little water, then drain. Cover with cold water and leave to soak for at least six hours.
Preheat oven to 220°C (Fan 200°C) / 425°F / Gas 7, and line 2 medium oven sheets with baking paper (mine is reusable).
Wash the pumpkin, cut it in half, extract and seed the seeds, and then cut it into wedges about 2 cm wide at its widest part. Drizzle over 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and toss toss with your hands, until all of the pumpkin is coated. Place the trays on the tray and bake for 25 minutes, then remove and place to one side.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the mustard and fenugreek seeds, and saute for 30 seconds, until they bubble. Add the dried yellow peas followed by 1 1/4 pints cold water, cover top, cook lightly, and bring to a slow boil over low to medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, then add tomatoes, tamarind, black pepper, coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer for another 20 minutes, until the peas are tender — they should have the consistency of a cooked potato when you bite into them.
Stir in two-thirds of the roasted pumpkin slices (reserve the nicer ones, which you’ll use for garnish later), and simmer for another six to eight minutes—don’t worry if the pumpkin breaks; It will help thicken the risotto—then adjust seasoning to taste, if necessary.
In another small skillet, put 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat, and when hot, add the garlic cloves and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the garlic has turned bronze on the edges and the pepper is blistered white.
Pour the garlic and chili mixture into a rasam, then spoon it into a plate or into individual bowls, and serve with roasted pumpkin chunks preserved and sprinkled with coriander leaves, preferably with some steamed basmati rice.