Murungakkai Sambar | Drumstick Sambar With Crushed Curry Leaves

Drumsticks, such a funny name, are stick shaped vegetables that grow on a tree. They are funny, skinny, long vegetables with a hard outer covering that gives them the name drumsticks. You have to be in the know to eat this vegetable, as you would never guess it. There is a soft interior that is delicious. The pieces of drumsticks have to be picked up with the fingers, the exterior is squashed in the mouth and the tender interior can be scraped out with the teeth. You come to love this little procedure. The harder skin, once all flavour is extracted from it, is discarded on the side of the plate.

Drumsticks are particularly delicious in Sambar and Rasam. They are best bought fresh, but frozen drumsticks are readily available in Indian groceries if you can’t find them locally. This recipe is from the classic book Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine, such a great book of classic South Indian / Tamil traditional recipes. The method is somewhat different to Meenakshi Ammal’s seminal recipes from Cook and See, in that the tadka is added to the base gravy before the cooked dal is added. Ammal usually also includes tomatoes in her sambar as well, and thickens the dish with a little rice flour or besan at the end. I have added the thickening trick to the recipe as it really does add to the texture of the dish.

Similar recipes include Poritha Koottu, Poritha Kuzhambu, Drumstick Kadhi, and Pitlai.

Browse all of our Drumstick recipes and all of our Sambar dishes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or browse our Late Spring dishes.

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Mysore Rasam | First Method

In the end, rasam is just flavoured water. But as Indian food is the most refined cuisine in terms of the layering of flavours to achieve complexity and exquisite balance, flavoured water is amazing! Hot, spicy, tangy, salty, herbaceous, it hits the palate like a flavour bomb, and stimulates all aspects of digestion. I am a lover of Rasam, and am generally found having multiple servings.

Mysore Rasam is similar to Kottu (Plain) Rasam, in that it includes toor dal to give the rasam a beautiful silky texture. It also uses the water from cooking the dal to round out the flavours. It is rather like Plain Dal Rasam with different spices. And in this recipe, rasam powder is not used, rather the spices are sauteed and ground while the toor dal cooks.

In order to cook the toor dal while I potter around the house and garden doing other things, I have a little trick that I will share with you. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so first thing in the morning I rinse the dal and pop it into a saucepan with ample water. Then it is placed on the stovetop on the lowest heat available. Covered, I know that the dal will be perfectly cooked in 1 hour without me thinking about it. I do check the water level about half way through, but other than that, I can get on with the day without having to watch the pot. Perfectly cooked dal will be ready to make rasam for lunch. Or pop it on when you first get home from work or picking the kids up from school, and it will be easy to make rasam for dinner.

You might also be interested in reading about the difference between Rasam and Sambar.

Similar recipes include Tomato Rasam, Tomato Lemon Rasam, and Garlic Rasam.

Browse all of our Rasam recipes, and all of our Indian dishes. Our Indian Essentials are here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Cream of Roasted Swede (Rutabaga) Soup

It might be Spring, but some days are cold and windy, and we want the oven on to warm our living area, and we still long for soup with crusty bread.

Today it is Swede Soup – the swede is roasted and pureed with other vegetables to make a creamy beautiful soup. Swede is not a vegetable we use very often but we are working on changing that. It is an interesting vegetable with an undeservedly poor reputation. I would say that it is a shy vegetable, a little rough and ugly when uncooked, but when heat hits those babies, it brings out a sweet, nutty taste. Delicious!

In parts of the world, Swede is called Rutabaga, and in other parts it is called Neeps.

Similar recipes include Pumpkin Soup, Roast Parsnip Soup, and Roasted Carrot and Apple Soup.

Browse all of our Swede recipes, and all of our Soups. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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Young Broad Bean Pod Puree

Did you know that you can make a puree of young, vibrant green Broad Bean pods? They must be young, and the simple puree then can be used as a dip, with grilled vegetables and salads, or as a base for a wonderful soup. It does oxidise very very quickly (to an interesting shade of black), so needs to be covered well or made immediately before use.

The taste is green and fresh. I made this with broad bean pods straight from the garden, from about 6 cm long to 12 cm long. I left the beans in the pods, although you can remove them if you want to use them for a different dish.

We love this top to tail eating with vegetables. With broad beans, the shoots can be eaten, the beans of course, the pods as in this recipe, and also the dried beans. A life-cycle of uses.

Are you after more Broad Bean dishes? Try Umbrian Broad Bean Puree, Glorious Five Bean Salad, Dried Fava Bean Puree with Dill, and Tawa Broad Beans.

Browse all of our Broad Bean recipes, and all of our Purees. Or explore our Early Spring dishes.

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South Indian Baby Sweetcorn and Green Bean Soup

This is our second Baby Corn Soup; this one includes green beans for added crunch and fresh taste. It is another soup from Vol 4 of Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See, written by her daughter Priya Ramakumar. They are reminiscent of, say, 1970’s style soups – simple, no fuss, delicious. many of them (but not this one) are Anglo-Indian. I adore them – they are such a contrast to other elements of Indian cuisine.

As explained in previous posts, Soups as we know them are uncommon in India. But in South Indian, the TamBram community does make some very simple and un-spiced soups, probably influenced by the British, and perfect for using up left over odds and sods of vegetables.

Rather than being served in large bowls like we might serve a soup, it is served in small bowls, unaccompanied by crusty bread, grated cheese, olive oil for drizzling, or croutons. Actually, it is a really nice beginning to a hot and spicy meal.

Several of the soups in this volume of Cook and See show the growing love for Chinese food in India at the time that the volume of recipes was written. The nod to Chinese fare is created by a drizzle of soy sauce on top of the soup. Baby corn, after all, is associated (probably incorrectly) in many countries as being quintessential Chinese. This Indo-Chinese cuisine is very popular.

Baby corn is available at most Asian Grocery shops.

Similar recipes include South Indian Baby Corn Soup, South Indian Spring Onion Soup, and South Indian Cauliflower Soup.

Or browse all of our Indian Soups here, and all of Meenakshi Ammal’s dishes. Our Indian Recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials here. Or explore our Late Winter dishes.

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Quick Gazpacho

Cold soups are all the rage at our place in Summer – the hot Summer days of over 35C, often over 40C, demand cooling foods, yet we still want them to be nourishing and healthy. In our garden there are often tomatoes to spare, and so making Gazpacho, that Spanish delicious cold soup, makes such sense.

This is a quick version, takes no more than the time it takes to wash the tomatoes and peel the cucumber. I like these ratios, but nothing is fixed and you can play around with this delicious blender formula. Add a few herbs, lemon instead of vinegar, a small amount of fresh green or red chilli. Enjoy yourself as you make variations on this theme.

Are you looking for cold soups? Try this quick Tomato and Cucumber Cold Soup, Chilled Beetroot Soup, and Roast Tomato and Corn Cold Soup.

What about Cucumber recipes? Try Cucumber Salad with Ricotta and Capers, Cucumber Raita, and Cucumber Lassi.

Try these Tomato recipes – Red Pepper and Tomato Salad with Crispy Flatbread, Chilli and Lime, Italian Tomato Sauce, and Tomato and Peach Salad.

You can browse all of our Cold Soup recipes, all of our Tomato recipes, and all of our Cucumber recipes. Have a look at our Tomato Soups, Cucumber Soups, or all of our Soups, hot and cold. Or take some time to browse our Late Summer dishes.

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South Indian Carrot Soup

Here is another of the quick soups from Vol 4 of Cook and See – this volume of Meenakshi Ammal’s cookbooks is by Priya Ramkumar. It is a 1970’s style soup, quick and easy, simple and fresh, and surprisingly packed full of flavour. They make great luncheon soups with a salad and some fresh crunchy bread, or a perfect beginning to a heavier meal.

I have written elsewhere about the role of these South Indian soups, so check out the others in this series for comments and my experiences in India.

Similar recipes include South Indian Green Peas Soup, South Indian Cauliflower Soup, and South Indian Spring Onion Soup.

Browse all of our South Indian Soups, and indeed, all of our Soups. Our Indian recipes are here and Indian Essentials here. Or enjoy our collection of Mid Winter dishes.

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A Special Pumpkin Soup

A soup for when winter goes on and on and on ….

You can never have too many pumpkin soup recipes. They abound, to be sure. But, comforting and nourishing, they are frequently on the menu at our place. Also, they are perfect dinner items from Autumn through Winter and into Spring, which means they are very versatile. We always make a large pot, and then vary the soup each meal by adding chilli or pesto, tomato paste or milk/cream and adding different herbs – basil, parsley, coriander (cilantro).

This pumpkin soup has a tang to it with the addition of sweet sherry! An old ingredient indeed, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have the occasional place in the modern kitchen.

This is a great dish for Thanksgiving, if you celebrate that US festival. Other Thanksgiving recipes are here.

Similar recipes include Cream of Roasted Swede SoupFrench Cream of Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Soup with Red Peppers, and Pumpkin Cooked with Lashings of Butter.

You might like to browse other Pumpkin Soup recipes, and all of our Pumpkin recipes. Try other Soup recipes too. Or simply explore our easy Mid Winter recipes.

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Cumquat Rasam | Kumquat Rasam | Sweet, Sour, Hot, Delicious

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.

Similar recipes include Kottu Rasam, Pepper Rasam, Lemon Rasam, and and Tomato Rasam.

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.

Cumquat recipes include Cumquat Tea, Cumquat Rice, and Cumquat Chutney.

Browse all of our Rasam recipes, and our Cumquat recipes. Explore our Indian dishes, and our Indian Essentials too. Or check out our delicious Late Winter dishes.

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Dried Fava Bean Soup | Dried Broad Bean Soup with Potatoes

Late Winter comes and we begin to look forward to Spring. However the weather gods have other ideas, plunging us into the coldest weather of the winter, stormy and wet, and very very cold.

We really did fall in love with dried broad beans this year. After a hiccup at the beginning – we really didn’t know a lot about how to handle these large beauties – we have settled into a routine of using them every couple of weeks. Totally delicious.

The smaller, peeled dried fava beans are easier to use, but if you can’t find them, use the larger (gigantic) unpeeled ones. The peeled dried broad beans are quite small, whereas the unpeeled ones are large beans. Soak the large ones overnight, then pop them out of their peels before cooking. If they don’t come out of the skins easily, try soaking them in boiling water for 20 – 30 mins. They should come off easily then. I like to peel them in front of the TV the night before I am using them. It makes this meditative task very easy.

This recipe doesn’t saute the onions and celery, but rather pops them into the pot with the beans and the stock. In Greece it is believed that sauteing them before hand makes the dish heavier, and if you think about it, it is an excellent observation. I like to keep this soup lighter, but by all means saute off the aromatics beforehand if you wish.

Similar recipes include Fava Bean Soup with Turmeric and Herbs, and Fava Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs.

Or browse all of our Broad Bean recipes and all of our Italian dishes. Alternatively, take some time to explore our Mid Winter collection of dishes.

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Adzuki Bean and Parsley Soup

A transitional soup that is perfect for the period where Winter moves into Spring – a soup with the warmth of winter in Adzuki Beans, Sesame Oil and Mirin, and the promise of Spring in the fresh parsley added at the end of cooking. The herby goodness of the parsley nicely balances the inherent sweetness of the Adzuki Beans.

I have been re-reading the wonderful writings of Lucy (Nourish Me) with her beautiful kitchen photos. With some adzuki beans already soaking, this recipe sparked interest. Of course it is tweaked a little from the original.

Similar recipes include Adzuki Beans with Shiitake Muhrooms, Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup, and Red Rice and Adzuki Bean Congee.

If you are looking for Adzuki Bean recipes, you can browse all of ours here. Or explore all of our Soup recipes . There are Parsley Recipes too. Or try our easy Late Winter recipes.

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Vegetable and Barley Soup

Let’s face it, Barley is primarily a winter grain, cooked into soups, pilafs, “risottos” and vegetable stews. Its creamy texture is divine in winter, pairing well with parsnips in particular, with winter hard herbs and parsley, with tomatoes, and, well, with me. I fell in love with barley this year.

Having experimented with making barley water and roasting barley to make barley coffee, I can now leave those uses behind – I am not a terrific fan of either although they are interesting. But wintery barley uses – sign me up.

This is a huge vegetable and barley soup, full of goodness and just right for a day when the temperature doesn’t get over about 9C. Best to take some books and a bowl of soup and curl up in bed on those days.

Similar recipes include Charred Okra with Spiced Tomato Barley, Adzuki Bean, Barley and Pumpkin Soup, Parsnip and Barley Soup, and Barley and Root Vegetable Soup.

You might like to explore our other Barley recipes. Our Soup recipes are here. Or browse our easy Mid Winter recipes.

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South Indian Baby Corn Soup

Oh how cute – baby corn in a creamy base. It makes a great soup. Fresh baby corn is easy to find in Asian groceries if your local green grocer does not stock it.

This is another soup recipe from Vol 4 of Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See iconic books. All the soups in this section are simple, unspiced and almost 1970’s in style. This is not surprising, given the era that Meenakshi Ammal wrote the rest of the books. Soups like this are not common in South India, but not rare either. Baby corn is quite popular – going with the love of all things Indo-Chinese – and as I said, are really cute.

Are you after other South Indian Soups? Try Baby Sweetcorn and Green Bean Soup, South Indian Spring Onion Soup, Beetroot Soup, and Cauliflower Soup.

Would you like more Sweetcorn dishes? Try Sweetcorn Sundal, and Roast Tomato and Sweetcorn Soup.

All of our South Indian Soups are here and all of our Soups here. Browse our Sweetcorn dishes, and all of our Indian recipes. Or simply explore our Mid Winter dishes.

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Roasted Parsnip Soup with Spices

I love a good parsnip, but I don’t eat enough of them. This recipe maximises the flavours of the parsnip by roasting them before using them to make a soup with spices. It is another beautiful, warming Winter soup. Dollop Thick Thick Yoghurt  on top, or some home made Creme Fraiche.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Parsnip and Barley Soup with Garlic and Sage, Spicy Parsnip Soup with Crispy Garlic, and Spicy Roasted Carrot and Apple Soup.

Browse all of our Parsnip recipes, and all of our yummy Soups. Or take some time to explore our Mid Winter recipes.

This is a recipe from our first blog, which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series.

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South Indian Green Peas Soup

Have you ever before seen serve hot with soy sauce as an instruction for a soup? Well, now you have. In this Green Pea Soup recipe from Tamil Nadu, South India, that is exactly the serving suggestion. South Indian soups are unspiced but flavoursome soups that are probably hang-overs from the British occupation. Somehow they have snuck into parts of the South Indian cuisine. This one has a slight Indo-Chinese influence – thickened with cornflour and topped with soy sauce.

In my experience, South Indian soups are served in small amounts. I have had them both before a main meal and after, so traditions must vary across South India.

This soup is made from peas, carrots and cauliflower, and thickened slightly with cornflour. It’s delicious, in a 1970’s sort of way. I love it.

Are you looking for other South Indian Soups? Try South Indian Beetroot Soup, South Indian Summery Tomato Soup, South Indian Baby Corn Soup, and South Indian Cauliflower Soup.

Or perhaps you are after other (more spicy) Indian soups? Try Mung Dal with Coconut, Creamy Tomato Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger, and Simple Indian Dal Soup.

Or some Pea recipes? Try Carrots and Green Peas with Green Coriander, Green Pea Pilaf, and Buttermilk Sambar.

You can also browse all of our South Indian Soups, and all of our Indian Soups. Or have a look at our Pea recipes.  Perhaps you would like to explore all Indian dishes. Or maybe all of our Soups. Or simply take some time to have a look at our Late Spring dishes.

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