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What's Cooking?

Rasam or Charu

What’s Cooking? by P.S. Lakshmi Rao

¼ cup cooked toor dal

Walnut size tamarind (soaked in ½ cup water)

1/2 medium tomato cut in to 9 pieces

2 teaspoons salt

1\4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)

1 long curry leaf (Karivepaku)

1-tablespoon charu powder (see the recipe below)

1-teaspoon brown sugar

4 pieces of mulakkdalu (vegetarian drum sticks)

In a three-quart saucepan squeeze the juice out of tamarind using one cup of water. Repeat to make 4 cups tamarind juice. Discard the pulp.  Add ¾ cups water to thoor dal and mash it and pour only the liquid in to the tamarind juice. Discard leftover dal.

Add rest of the ingredients, and boil for 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium.


2 teaspoon of oil

6 methi seeds (fenugreek)

1/2 tea red mustard seed

1 dry red chili broken into small pieces or one whole chili for flavor

¼ teaspoon cumin seeds

A pinch of asafetida (hing)

2 stems finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat oil and add methi seeds. Fry them until light brown. Add rest of the ingredients (except coriander leaves) and fry until mustard seeds pop. Add this to charu immediately. Cover and keep charu on low heat. Add coriander leaves and turn the heat off after 2 or 3 minutes. Adjust salt and sour taste according to taste.

Charu can be made ahead of time. Heat just before serving.

Note: to squeeze the tamarind juice add 1/2 cup of water to tamarind and microwave for a minute to make it soft.


1/4 cup methi seed

1/2 cup chana dal

1/2 cup toor dal

4 to 6 red chillies

1/4 cup whole black pepper

1 cups coriander seeds (dhania)

1/4 cup cumin seeds (jeera)

1/4 tea asafoetida (hing)

Few curry leaves, removed from the stem and torn in to pieces

In a 10 inch frying pan fry methi seeds until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan on medium low heat fry next four ingredients without oil for five minutes. Add black peppers, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Fry for two minutes. Add asafoetida. (if using asafoetida pieces, add them to the spices one minute earlier) Remove from the heat and keep them in same pan with methi seed.

Let all the spices cool.

Put all the spices in the blender jar and blend them  in to soft powder. Mix curry leaves in to the powder. Keep the powder in a glass jar with a lid. Stays fresh for long time.

Note: Toor dal tastes much better if dry roasted on very low heat before using. Make sure not to burn even one grain of dal. Whenever you make something with toor dal, save some water from dal. You can use this water  for making charu.

Charu should be very diluted and clear. My kids always make charu when they get colds or sinuses. Sometimes I strain and serve it in a cup or cocktail glass as an appetizer before dinner. Make sure the glass is heat resistant.

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