Rasam is a sort of thinned down lentil broth, spiked with tamarind and/or tomatoes or lemon juice, that is served over rice in South india. In the USA, it is even served in restaurants as an appetizer/soup. It is spicy, tangy and soothing all at once and each sip seems to burst with surprises. Lemon rasam is tangier and tastes of fresh lime, chiles and ginger and its like sunshine in a bowl.
A handful of pigeon peas, cooked until mushy
1 lime or 1/2 lemon
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2-3 serrano chiles, chopped as desired (if you do not like it very spicy, leave it as large pieces)
Salt as needed
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
Oil or ghee- 1/2 tsp
dry red chili- optional
Cilantro, few sprigs, finely chopped (optional)
Thin down the pigeon peas until it is really thin broth-like. Add the tomato pieces, salt, turmeric and green chiles. Boil until you see foam on top for about 5 minutes. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and dry chile and let them splutter. After this, quickly add the ginger and saute for like 15 seconds. Add this seasoning to the hot broth. Let rasam cool down to lukewarm. Squeeze lime/lemon and mix. Taste after you squeeze each half. Garnish with cilantro. The tanginess is really upto you. If you want to serve this 2-3 hours later, let it be slightly less tangy than desired 'coz the flavor brightens up after sitting. But please people, do not boil this rasam again for reheating. The lemon gets real bitter!! Serve as soup or with a little rice added.
Now for my mom's marinated carrot salad. I hate carrots for savory dishes but this is something I can gorge on by the bowlfuls. It is once again, as you guessed, SPICYYY! I don't think this is actually south indian but it is mighty tasty. Just grate 3 medium peeled carrots in the big holes of your box grater. I reckon the carrot matchsticks sold readily prepped, can be used. Season the carrots with oil in which the following have been spluttered: 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp urad dal and 2 coarsely chopped serrano chillies. Mix in salt to the carrots. Now squeeze 1/2 a lime or lemon over and let the salad marinate for at least an hour before serving.