Murungakkai / Keerai rasam or low footprint cooking

I remember the war of words my mother and her mother  used to have over mom's naturally low foot print habits:
Preserving the stems of the various greens (keerai), when tender, we bought for making a daal/sambhar.
Cooking with radish/knolkhol/turnip greens.
Making Bassar (a sort of soup) with the water from cooking french beans.
Pouring rasam into sambhar to extend the sambhar for every one's dinner at night
My grandma considered mom's cooking weird, she primarily liked English Vegetables, she hated keerai and found using stems and leaves of regular vegetables a tad cheap.  She also stuck to traditional methods of cooking.

My mother on the other hand, had a insatiable curiosity about all the different kinds of vegetables/daals and different ways of cooking them up.  She collected recipes voraciously and even played around with traditional desserts (Sacrilege!).

I hated it.  In my ignorant childhood I prefereed my grandma's straightforward cooking to my mothers experiments and shared my grandma's disdain for all health foods.

Now, as an adult and mother of two I actually share her passion for minimising waste, eating a variety of foods and enjoying my greens, not just suffering through my weekly quota!  I am also slowly increasing the oil level in many dishes because low calorie count seems a lot more necessary than low fat!  And a decent amount of fat (not frying, just sauteing) makes vegetables taste lovely.

One habit we continue to disagree on is, I hate pressure cooking most vegetables, especially greens.  Steaming takes too much time and supervision, I try to cook in the right amount of water, ending with overcooked/burnt dishes often.

Today I made a change.  I cooked siru keerai and murungakkai seperately in a little more than necessary water.  Drained the water and saved it in the fridge.  When I came home in the evening I made a hot rasam with this broth, the rasam met with Gau's approval!  I have finally done it, after 3 generations, cooking healthy to everyone's satisfaction :)

  1. 1 lemon size (2" dia) tamarind piece 
  2. 1 cup hot water
  3. 2 garlic pods
  4. 1 shallot finely chopped
  5. 1" piece ginger finely chopped
  6. 2 stems from coriander, finely chopped
  7. 1 tsp blackpepper corns
  8. 1 tsp cumin
  9. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
  10. 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  11. 1 tomato
  12. 1 spring curry leaves
  13. 1 tsp turmeric powder

  1. 1 - 2 cups broth
  2. 1 tbspoon cooked daal
  3.  1 tsp sugar
1 tsp commercial Rasam powder (optional)
Coriander leaves to garnish (optional)

Tempering (optional)
  1. 1 tsp oil
  2. 1/2 tsp cumin
  3. 1/2 tsp pepper
  4. 1 dried red chili
  5. 1 tsp mustard
  6. 2 pods garlic finely minced
rapidly consumed Garlic Rasam with Murungakkai broth

Extract tamarind juice with the hot water (soak in water until cool enough to handle then squeeze)
Crush the tomato into the tamarind water.
Pound items 7 - 10 into a fine powder
Add items 3 - 6 and continue pounding until everything comes together into a paste.
Add the paste, turmeric powder and the curry leaves to the tamarind water
Add salt and boil 5 - 6 minutes until the garlic smells less raw.
Dissolve the cooked daal in the broth and add it to the rasam on the stove and reduce heat to low
Add sugar, salt to taste and optional rasam powder and let the rasam come to a simmer.
Take off the stove and garnish with corinader leaves.

heat oil in another pan, add mustard, cumin, pepper, fennel, red chili and finally garlic after the mustard pops.
Pour the tempered oil into the rasam and cover.
The murungakkai flavour comes through beautifully despite the garlic.  Very pleasant when hot. Especially when you are recovering from a cold.

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