11 October, 2007

Tomato Saaru & Pepper-Carrot Palya

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Our Comfort Food: Rasam Rice, Papads, Pepper-Carrot Palya and Salad

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort."
-Norman Kolpas

Our senses hold some of our most potent memories. Touching the silk or smelling herbal soap, aroma of ground coffee brewing in coffee maker or sizzling of curry leaves in oil sends me back in time to my Ajji’s kitchen. There is a delicious Rasam bubbling in a large copper pot over an open fire-wood heated stove in one corner; one helper is pounding red chillies and spices in other corner while my aunt is grinding freshly grated coconut with chillies for chutney in a stone grinder. There is a small stream of water flowing close to the kitchen, with just the right breeze causing a mist to drift across my face, tickling my nose. I am sitting cross legged on red oxide floor with my sister and cousins wondering where to have our picnic lunch, that day’s most important question. The sight, smell and taste of what my granny cooked are fresh and vivid memories which I will always carry with me.

While cooking everyday meals, I find myself musing lately over comfort foods. If I were to ask you what food you associate with feeling good, what would be your answer? I know that your answer is probably different from what I consider to be my comfort food, mainly because of our individual life experiences, backgrounds and cultures. Comfort food satisfies our soul as well as the stomach and that’s why we love it so much. Often these dishes remind us of our childhood, happy memories. Cooking up that dish our Granny or Mom or Aunt used to make is as soothing as eating it because it reminds us of a time when life was simpler. My Amma would always say that the reason why comfort food always tastes best is because it is shared with our loving family and friends with no frills, just with love. The kitchen filled with the aroma and scent of food that brings back warm and fond memories is what makes it more comforting and as these recollections takes place around the table with our loved one, yet another fond and loving memory is born.

Like most people, I don’t have just one memory associated with just one food. I have good number of favourite foods which fall under comfort food zone. These recipes are simple with minimal ingredients used and are unpretentious. But these are the food which oozes with flavours and make me feel good when preparing and eating them. One such dish is simple tangy Tomato Saaru with Pepper-Carrot Palya. They are simple culinary delights I crave, just for comfort...

After many unsuccessful attempts at making simple Tomato Saaru which I wanted to taste just like the one my Amma and Ajji makes my hubby surprised me with his Rasam. It tasted as good as the one I remembered eating when growing up-same flavour, same aroma, same colour and same taste. Although he used the similar ingredients which most of us use when making Rasam it tasted different from what I cook. I immediately wrote down his recipe and tried it next time using same measures and ingredients and following his method. Darn!!! There was still something missing, may be it’s to do with the taste which goes into ingredients when he touches them. Since then it’s Krish who makes Rasam for me, the one which is comfort food for me and takes me down the memory lane.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Tangy Tomato Saaru

Photobucket Print This Recipe
Tomato Rasam
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20-25 mins
Serves: 3-4

3-4 large ripe & juicy Tomatoes, thinly sliced or chopped
¾ cup Toor Dal, picked and washed
1 tbsp Rasam Powder
1 large marble sized Tamarind Pulp/½ tbsp Tamarind Puree
2 Green Chillies, slit
½-1 medium Onion, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
½ inch Ginger, crushed
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Black Pepper, lightly crushed using pestle and mortar
½-1 tbsp Jaggery
2-3 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste

For Tempering:

1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Black Peppers
3-4 cloves of Garlic
1-2 Dry Red Chilli, broken
Few Curry Leaves
A big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
½ tbsp Oil/Ghee
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Rasam Rice with Papads

Cook toor dal with 2 cups of water, turmeric and a tsp of oil in pressure cooker for about 15-20 minutes till they are nicely cooked.
Release the pressure from pressure cooker before you open the lid and roughly mash the cooked dal with ladle or potato masher.
Soak tamarind pulp in half a cup of warm water for about 5 minutes and squeeze the pulp to release its juice. Discard the pulp once used.
Transfer cooked dal into heavy bottomed pan and add sliced onions, slit green chillies, crushed ginger and about 2-3 cups of water and boil it for about 5 minutes in medium flame.
Add sliced tomatoes, tamarind extract, rasam powder, jaggery, crushed black peppers and salt to taste and simmer the heat and cook for another 20-30 minutes on medium to low flame.
Add more water if you feel the rasam is thick. When rasam is reduced to ¾th of its quantity, mix in chopped coriander leaves.
For tempering, first crush cumin seeds and black pepper in a mortar and pestle. Also roughly crush garlic cloves and keep it aside. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, broken red chillis, crushed cumin-pepper-garlic, hing and curry leaves in that order and when mustard starts to pop and splutter transfer the tadka to rasam and mix well. Let the Rasam simmer for another 5 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
Serve hot rasam with steamed rice and papad or serve in a bowl as a soup.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Rasam Rice, Papads, Pepper-Carrot Palya and Salad: Our Simple Meal

There is nothing better than a simple vegetable stir fry and Pepper-Carrot Palya which my mom made is something I would happily eat as a salad with Yogurt or as a side dish with Rasam Rice. The beauty of this dish is its simplicity with minimal preparation and cooking time. Stir fried green pepper and grated carrot is spiced up with simple seasoning and a splash of lime juice makes it comfort food for me.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pepper-Carrot Palya

Photobucket Print This Recipe
Pepper-Carrot Palya
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 5 mins
Serves: 2-3

2 cups Grated Carrot
1 large Green Pepper/Capsicum, cut into 1 cm squares
1 Green Chilli, sliced (Optional)
1-2 tbsp Lemon Juice
½ tsp Jaggery/Sugar
A pinch of Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Coriander, finely chopped
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 Dry Red Chilli, broken
A Spring of Curry Leaves
1 tsp Oil
A pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pepper-Carrot Palya

Heat oil in a pan and add urad dal, broken red chilli, mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves in that order.
When urad dal turns golden yellow and mustard starts to pop and splutter, add chopped capsicum pieces, slit green chilli and sauté over medium heat for about 1-2 minutes till its skin starts to wilt.
Now add turmeric powder, jaggery, grated carrots and salt to taste and sauté them for about 1 minute till the heat is equally spread. Make sure that you don’t over cook pepper and carrots and they should retain their colour and crunch.
Turn of the gas and mix in lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with Rasam Rice or eat it with yogurt the way I prefer.


  1. Lovely Pics Sia, Indeed "Rasam" rice is a comfort food ...:)... love carrot palya too...:)

  2. The pics look lovely as usual. Who dosen't like rasam? Your post made me nostalgic. I'm craving for some mor milagai rightnow.Carrot pepper salad looks so colorful. Love it.

  3. Aroma is a facet of cooking, IMO. Even now, when I splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves, it reminds me of my mom making upma. The colour of the carrot pops out :)

  4. Wow rasam and palya looks yummy. We will do tomato rasam with little difference and do give it a try.

  5. I love tomato rasam. Just couple of weeks back I posted my version. Your version also sounds interesting. Got to give it a try.

  6. Isn't it fun to have two in the kitchen! Recipes sound great and I just love the beautiful photos against the lively background of the new site :)

  7. The dish looks lovely...my comfort food always reminds me of home...

    Your new look really rocks...

  8. I dint know that u can actually put onions in your rasam! I never do..Umm..this one is different..will try :)

  9. Rasam, the food thats nurtured me last week through my cough and cold! Can't have enough of it, bring it on, Sia :). and lovely pepper-carrot palys too. Ah! and the smell of curry leaves in tadka.....bliss!

  10. Sia,

    beautiful pics, I make rasam but never added toor dal, will try it next time.

  11. there is nothing as comfortable as some hot piping rice, rasam and a dry subzi. It makes a great lunch! your palate looks so colorful and yum!

  12. Simple meal...Comfort food indeed dear .....Good One :-)

  13. u are right..i think more than the food..the anticipation,the scene and who makes it for us adds an impact of the dish...urs looks yumm

  14. u are right..i think more than the food..the anticipation,the scene and who makes it for us adds an impact of the dish...urs looks yumm

  15. Tomato Rasam is my all time comfort food and carrot and pepper curry is totally new to me. Loved all the pictures.

  16. wow the pictures just looks so good kane :) saaru palya always go hand in hand. the platter looks very comforting!

  17. looks yummy... you take comfort food to new heights :-)

  18. I love that carrot palya...!!looks attractive...!!

  19. Hi Sia, what a coincidence this is my menu for today's dinner. I was pleasently surprised to see this. Tomato rasam recipe is totally different from yours. Navaratri/Dasara jora nimma kade ?

  20. I love the photos, you are right smell is a direct route for nostalgia!
    Sometime it is subconcious, so we don't why we are happy or sad.
    Tasty looking rasam and carrot palya looks so yummy

  21. Hey Sia!!
    what to say? amazing!!
    love that thali with those incredible dishes!!!
    hey hey when shall i come over?

  22. Rasam, Cheer up Sia, with its simple ingredients is the hardest to master, my rasam still does not taste as good as my grandma's or mom's. But with the carrot palya, looks delicious and so comforting definitely.

  23. Love reasam
    The pic loks great

  24. Hi Sups,

    I agree with you....even after a flight journey or any outting having continuous out food..once we reach home..feel like having hot food:))

    Nice presentation....

  25. Simple and elegantly presented meal. You make simple things look so beautiful, never thought tomato rasam and carrot palya will looks so glamorous on that plater!

  26. As my dad is from Mysore, we never cooked Rasam at home.All the saaru's are always with coconut masala and always thick. I still like it that way but I also make Rasam here. Kids are so used to thick saaru, they say "Why is si thin,are you sure you didn't forget something?"!:D
    They prefer coconut added saaru.
    Looks delicious Sia. I love Carrot, pepper salad too. Actually I am cooking for Dasara. You will see my version of Rasam too!:))
    Have a great weekend, see you at 4th post!

  27. @siri,
    thank u siri. this is what we crave for when come bk home after long drive:)

    yes girl, rasam is everyone's fav:) do u want me to send some mor milagai?

    i know, even i try to recreate the magic of my mom and ajji's food.
    darn those counter top lights:( they give bright yellow tinge to every pic i take.

  28. So you are watching me is it?

    :grin: just got around to testing Monsoon Spice fully - Food Blog Events round ups page is very useful - Can you add in the Festive Series too? I can mail you the details - there have been two so far and now the third is clubbed with Jihva.

  29. @rohini,
    i will surely look forward to ur version of rasam rohini:)

    this is my granny's recipe. i will check ur recipe soon. although its a common dish every one has their own special touches.

    u bet:) i cant function peoperly if K is not around when i am cooking:)

  30. @suni,
    i guess thats why the r called comfort food coz they remind us of home and happy time:)
    thanks suni

    this is how my granny used to prepare. u can leave out onions if u dont prefer them.

    i should send u pepper rasam then or better ganji saaru:)

  31. @sreelu,
    we always add toor or masoor dal when making rasam. which dal do u use sree?

    u said it all girl:)

    sometimes its the simplest of meal which completely satisfies isn't it? :)

  32. @rajitha,
    how true indeed!!! i second ur thoughts rajitha:)

    @red chillies,
    try the palya. u will be pleasantly surprised with the taste:)

    allada? my fav combo too:)

  33. @raaga,
    LOL...thanks girl:)

    thanks raks:)

    did u make pepper-carrot palya too? awesome:) habba enu jorilla... i am quite busy with office work. will see if i can cook something over weekend. nimmadu heege naditta ide?

  34. @saju,
    u r so true saju. just the sight or aroma is enough to invoke the feeling of nostalgia.

    thanks padma:) just pack ur bag and get into train:)

    i had almost given up indo to recreate the taste of rasam my ajji and amma makes. thankfully coz of my hubby i can still taste it:) as u said simple food like this is hardest to master.

  35. @happy cook,
    thank u HC:)

    ah!!! i hate the food served in flights :( next time i am thinking of carrying a small box of rasam rice with pickle if i am allowed;)

  36. @padma,
    OMG!!! u had to do it rt? ok, i admit... my face looks like a beetroot now;) thanks padma:)

    saaru with coconut masala? is it like coconut saaru i blogged few months ago? i am all curious to know abt it ashakka:)
    can't wait to see the grand finale to RCI-karnataka:)

    watching u? nah... ;)
    i will surely add ur festive series lakshmi. it would be really useful for me if u can just mail me the links. just drop me a line and i will update my events page ASAP.

  37. Hi Sia....your blog brings the little girl in me out. It is so simple yet alluring and the poetic way makes it more special. Keep up the good work...and I have added you in my favourite blogs on my blog. loads of best wishes :) Supriya

  38. Love the ever green comfort food-rasam along with the colourful and healthy carrot palya,Sia!!!
    Great shots!!

  39. awesome pictures! delicious rasam and palya... thanks for visiting my blog!

  40. Comfort food, eh? I'll tell you about comfort food, funny I should see this post just now after a comfort meal of cup-o-noodles, a slice of bread with dal, mango pickle licked off the spoon in the jar and some drying pieces of Tirupati laddu in the refrigerator!

  41. a delicious n comfort meal...love the peppern carrot palya...bery colorful...nice pics.

  42. I make this rasam sometimes with the left over dhall curry. Beautiful tempting pics.

  43. Hi Sia,
    My long one month India Trip was hectic!!!
    I liked the new look of your blog.
    Very comforting food. Looks delicious.
    Thanks for sharing.

  44. Sia,
    OMG,......sooo tempting..
    If my DH sees this I would have to cook all these today..!
    Love all these dishes.....

  45. hmm..comfort indeed and my comfort food is kanji and payar which i already blogged ;)


  46. Pretty looking carrot salad. Lightens up the whole dish combo you made.

  47. Oooh, I saw some papadam in the pictures...I love those, with the tamarind dipping sauce. :)

  48. Wow! This pepper-carrot palya looks divine. And I love the pic of the ball of rasam rice - makes me want to leap in and grab it :)

  49. wow!!!too good ...excellent one ...carrot pepper excellent combho ...

  50. Sorry yaar, couldn't make it earlier. Have been very busy the last few days :(, I hate it when I even lack the time to hop on to my fav bloggers.

    Anyway, lovely recipe. I love rasam and shall try this sometime. usually my neighbour sends me some:)

  51. Okiez Sia darling, you are innoccent too!

    (I read your comment in Kribha's and granting you that wish..hehehe)

  52. @supriya,
    thank u supriya for adding me to ur blogroll. i am glad to know my blog is worthy enough to be in ur list:)

    thank u :)

    a warm welcome to my corner:)

  53. @sra,
    LOL... u havea long list of comfort foods;)

    thank u:)

    rasam with dal curry? now that is interesting...

  54. @MT,
    thank u dear:) hope u had gr8 time in india MT. looking forward to all new recipes.

    LOL... then cook it for him coz they hardly take more than half an hour to make all these. so its a win-win situation;)

    i know that. i am gonna make ur payar pretty soon:)

  55. @zlamushka,
    thanks :) carrot and beets always jazz up any dish, IMO.

    @rasa malasia,
    a warm welcome to my corner:) have u tried papad with chopped onion, tomato, chilli powder and a dash of lemon juice? yum...

    LOL...feel free to have some:)

  56. @deepa,
    thanks girl, hope u give it a try:)

    why sorry? i too am quite busy with work san and not able to blog hop like before. i too feel bad but sometimes but cant hep it. so chill sweetie;)
    u lucky girl... do u send something to that neighbour of urs?

    LOL... thank u my fairy god mother ;)

  57. Tomato saaru looks very inviting Sia and the pics are all just fabulous.

  58. hi. My name is Geetha. I tried with pepper carrot palya with chapathi and it was too delicious. Everyone at home liked it very much. Thank you for sharing this recipe :)

  59. @Geetha, Glad to know you and your family liked it. thank you for leaving such positive feedback.

  60. Sia,
    My rasam is also very similar to this and I am from Kerala:-) I season in ghee if I have some homemade ones and it gives it a special aroma and taste.
    Once I had some semiya upma leftover from breakfast and made rasam for lunch and as most of us homecooks who do not like to waste food, I took the semiya in a bowl and poured rasam on it and made it our own Indian noodle soup..have to say its become a new comfort food for me born out of necessity:-)

  61. Hi Sia,

    I think there is a slight error in your rasam recipe. You said onions instead of garlic maybe, as rasam doesn't have onions, right? :)
    I like the simple carrot curry recipe. Thanks.

  62. @Anita, Saaru from Karnataka is different from Rasam. And hence the presence of onions in this recipe as I grew up eating onions in rasams and saaru made by my grandma and mom. And also it is known fact that every house has different recipes and this is how my family cooks Saaru.

  63. Tried carrot salad, it came out well.


Namaste! I am Sia and welcome to Monsoon Spice, my virtual home. Thank you for all your comments, inputs and feedback. I really appreciate the valuable time you spent browsing through my recipe repertoire.

I hope you have found what you are looking for today. Feel free to leave any questions or queries you have on the recipes posted here. If you have any recipe requests, please drop a line at Ask Sia page. I will try to respond to all your queries as soon as possible to best of my knowledge.

I welcome all your valuable inputs and constructive criticism as long as it is meant to help and improve the blog. I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude, abusive, written with the intent to advertise, contain profanity or considered spam.

I hope that you will stop by again to read my rants, learn new recipes and share your ideas. Have a good look around and enjoy your time here. Thank you once again!