By the late 1990’s I was beginning to cook Indian food or at least attempting to make a fair representation of some dishes. Many of my early attempts came from Goa as that was my first port of call on my first trip to India. Later I expanded my love of Indian food to Tamil cuisine and South Indian in general.
Saar is similar to the Tamil dish Rasam, but with Goan twists. The recipe is from Tasty Morsels; Goan Food Ingredients and Preparation by Maria de Lourdes Bravo Da Costa Rodrigues. I picked it up on one of my early trips to Goa. It is like the Green and Gold of Goan Cuisine. I love to look through the book and remember my many visits to Goa over the years. I adore exploring the different areas of Goa, away from the tourist attractions, and dive into the different cultures. There were many times I travelled with a friend on his motorbike, exploring off-road areas and little-known beaches, as well as the local food markets, food stalls and tiny shops. Sleeping in thatched huts, eating at restaurants right on the beach, talking to women on the beach picking up inhabited shells to cook with rice. The smell of morning fires ready for cooking the day’s meals, the pink sands on the beaches, the sunsets, spice farms, hills, temples, music. Oh, Goa – I miss you!
Tickle My Senses has a wonderful description of Saar.
Well, saar needs to be eaten in the right way for maximum pleasure. Pour the piping hot tomato saar over your rice (for me the rice has to be swimming in the saar) then using your finger tips coat the rice with the piping hot saar, making sure you do not burn yourself ! then scoop mouthfuls of this delicious mixture into your mouth, accompanied with fried foods and vegetable. When all is done, lift up the plate to your lips and drink off any remaining saar, the orphaned bits can be polished off by licking your fingers….slurpp!!!
Note the Portuguese name of the author – there are at least 3 distinct cuisines in Goa – that heavily influenced by the Catholic Portuguese cuisine which is also non-vegetarian, that of the Hindu Goans which is more vegetarian and more traditionally South Indian. Finally there is the Muslim cuisine from the Muslim invaders and immigrants over the years.
Often Saar is described as a soup, which is a misnomer. While it is a thin but strongly flavoured broth, traditionally it is not eaten with a spoon from a bowl. See the description of Saar on the sidebar here. It really does capture the essence of Saar and Rasam.
We have a lovely collection of rasam recipes that we have put together as a collection. You can see the collection here.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can see more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.
2 Tblspn Toor Dal
1 cup water
1 cm ginger root
2 – 3 green chillies
1 Tblspn coriander leaves, chopped
1 white onion
sea salt to taste
1 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn asafoetida
1 tspn Urad dal
2 curry leaves
1 Tblspn coriander leaves
2 tspn ghee
Simmer together all of the main ingredients in a small to medium saucepan until the lentils are nearly cooked, half an hour or so.
Make a tadka with all of the seasoning ingredients. Heat the ghee in a tadka pan or saute pan, add the black mustard seeds until they pop. Add the urad dal and asaofoetida powder and allow the dal to darken a little. Add the curry leaves and coriander leaves and after a moment, pour the tadka with the ghee onto the saar.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy.