Rasam, that tangy, spicy, soup-like liquid of South India, is commonly made from lemons, limes and oranges, so, with a surfeit of cumquats in the kitchen, we made a delicious Cumquat Rasam to eat over rice.
You may be wondering what a Rasam is. It is a soup-like dish which can be thick or thin, and is usually eaten as part of a meal and served with rice – read more about Rasam here.
I’ve been discussing the spelling of Cumquat with others. In many places it is spelled Kumquat, but the British (and Australian) spelling is Cumquat. Surprisingly, in India, which has followed the British spellings in other things, has chosen Kumquat. But actually, neither spelling is correct. The name derives from the Cantonese gām-gwāt 金橘, literally meaning golden orange or golden tangerine. Our transliteration of the Cantonese, with the g sound so close to the k sound, had become C(K)umquat. There are parts of the world that call them Chinese Orange – so much simpler.
Heat 2 cups water (or you can use the cooking water from any cooking Indian dals or some light vegetable stock) with 1 tspn salt, 1 tspn jaggery and 2 – 4 green chillies, split in half but still in tact at the stem.
Taste, and balance the sugar and salt to your liking. When it boils, remove the rasam from the heat and add the juice of 6 – 8 larger sized cumquats (or equivalent of smaller ones). Taste again, and add more juice if required. Split 2 or 3 cumquats in half and float them in the rasam.
Make a tadka by popping half tspn of black mustard seeds in 1 tspn ghee, and adding a sprig of curry leaves as the mustard seeds finish popping. The curry leaves generally make the ghee erupt, so stand clear as you add them. Pour the tadka over the soup, stir, cover, allow to sit for 3 – 5 minutes, and serve.
It makes approx 2 cups. Sip as a broth or thin soup, or serve traditionally, with or over rice.