Noori Charu – A unique heirloom rasam recipe from my family, that does not use cooked dal. Spicy and tangy rasam recipe which is a perfect accompaniment to hot rice and ghee.
I am very excited and delighted to share with you this rasam recipe which is very close to my heart and invokes so many memories of my Subbu Avva. Subbulakshmi avva whom we used to affectionately call as Subbu Avva is my father’s mother. She was one dotting grandmother, my absolute favorite, who used to spoil me and my younger brother silly ! Growing up, we lived in a joint family and I was very close to her. The kind of woman she was, it is becoming extremely rare to see that kind anymore…very delicate, so very soft-hearted and innocent. She did not have a charismatic personality nor was she well-educated. But she lives in our hearts due to the depth of love and affection she showered on us. I have so many vivid memories of her which gives a glimpse of the rare personality she was – I recollect, how innocently she used to ask the fruit (street) vendor to give me that extra plantain…”Kozhandhaikku oru pazham kuduppa” (Give the baby an extra plantain) and I used to become red with embarrassment even at the age of 5 or 6. In her heart she never looked at anyone as an “outsider” and never thought twice before she gave menial chores to the boys in the street, and they too used to oblige for that extra 50 paisa she used to give them.I have imbibed so many things from her – she would chose to either throw herself totally into an action, or completely refrain from it. There were no in between half-hearted attempts ever. Be it making masala vadai or singing the Anjaneya Dhandakam in her “Ganeer” voice. She was married off to my grand father at the tender age of 12. She lived until she was 80+ which means she spent almost all her life in her husband’s house. But the love and affection she had for her younger brothers (including cousins), and the stories she used to recall of her childhood were precious.
I was not a very healthy toddler. I had chronic wheezing issues and primary complex. Invariably I was sick every other month and perennially affected by cold, cough and running nose till I was 10 years. Subbu avva used to make this Noori Charu often and used hand feed me hot piping rasam rice with oodles of ghee. Noori Charu is a Telugu name and means Rasam made with freshly ground spices.The smell of this rasam is so distinct that every time I make it, all her memories come gushing to me. The smell of this rasam lingers long after in my hands and so does the memories of Subbu avva !
Let’s see the how to make my Subbu Avva’s Noori Charu –
You will need 1 tablespoon of tur dal, 10-12 nos black pepercorn, 2 red chilies and lemon size tamarind. A note on the tamarind – Usually the dark (aged) tamarind variety is preferred for making this rasam. Soak the tamarind in warm water for a while. Add water and mash the tamarind and extract juice. You will need 2 cups of tamarind extract here. Also, preferably use the gundu (andhra) variety chilies. Next, heat 1/2 teaspoon of ghee in a kadai. We will be using only ghee for this recipe. Add the tur dal and red chilies and saute them until the dal turns golden brown. Switch off. Add the peppercorns to the kadai and saute for a minute in the retained heat. Transfer this fried dal-spice mixture into a blender and blend to a smooth paste with little water. Here, I have used a stone mortar to grind it into a paste. Subbu avva was an expert in using the stone mortar.Now onto making the rasam – My grandmother used to boil the tamarind water and salt in a vessel for a good 10 minutes until the raw smell went away. Then she used to add the ground spices and give it one boil before switching off and adding tadka. I make this rasam using the OPOS method in a 2 liter pressure cooker. I have not found any difference in the taste or texture using this method.
So in a 2 liter cooker, add the tamarind water, ground dal-spice mixture, salt as per your taste and cook on high heat (900w in an induction stove) for 2 whistles. Switch off. Release the pressure manually. Open the cooker only after all the pressure has been released. You cannot miss the aroma of the rasam nor can your neighbors. Now, in a frying pan/kadai heat 2 teaspoons of ghee. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter. Now, add 1 whole red chili and generous amounts of curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and add this tadka to the rasam. We do not add cumin seeds or asafoetida for this rasam. Enjoy the Noori Charu with hot rice and ghee !