Milagu rasam is a standard at our house when any of us fall sick. And, I can only say that it is soothing and at the same time tastes great even when you don't have an appetite. It was the very first item that I learned when I started cooking (in my 3rd year of undergraduate studies) and the only and only rasam that I knew to make until I came to the US.
Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):
Tamarind soaked in water - about the size of a 1/2 inch ball
(If using tamarind paste, 1/2 teaspoon of it)
Tomato - 1 medium sized cut into big chunks or finely chopped or just squished by hand
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
To dry grind into a coarse powder:
Dried red chillies - 2
Whole black pepper - 2 teaspoons
Cumin seeds - 1 to 1.5 teaspoons
Coriander seeds - 1 teaspoon
Toor dhal - 1 tablespoon
Cooking oil - 1 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves (optional) - a few
Cilantro - a few strands broken by hand
1. Make a coarse powder of red chillies, whole black pepper, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and toor dhal and set aside.
2. In a deep vessel, extract about 2 cups (using a measuring cup) of the juice of fresh tamarind or dilute the tamarind paste with 2 cups of water, add asafoetida and salt to the mixture and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, add the tomato pieces and boil more until the tomatoes cook and the raw smell of tamarind goes away. This takes about 10 - 15 minutes on medium heat.
3. To the mixture from step 2, add the spice powder from step 1, 1 more cup of water and continue heating the contents until you see a frothy layer on the top and turn off the stove when you do.
4. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, add mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. Immediately after they splutter, transfer the contents to the rasam from step 3.
5. Garnish with curry leaves and cilantro.
It is really comforting if you drink hot milagu rasam when you have a sore throat or cold. You can also have it with rice and ghee (clarified butter), as always :-).