Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Ultimate Indian comfort foods

Americans draw their comfort from mashed potatoes and mac-n-cheese, but to my mind, nothing tops a good piping-hot rasam chaadam for ultimate comfort, especially on a cold winter’s day, with a side dish of vendakai (okra) kari or crispy potatoes also made in the South Indian style. Art very quickly caught on to this incarnation of comfort food (although I think he could just as easily go for mac-n-cheese) and what’s more, he likes it the same way I do – the rice soft and slightly overcooked, pisinju-fied (a Tamil word meaning mixed but in a very particular way with the right hand) with the rasam.

Rasam is basically a sour and spicy South Indian soup made with some lentils, different recipes for which will follow. Others who must be mentioned in connection with this recipe are Saurav Sen, who once told me (though he’d probably deny it now) that rasam was worth flying from one coast to another for, and Radha, my last roomie in New Haven, who used to call me for a refresher whenever she set out to make rasam for hubby Krishnan.

Meanwhile in other parts of India, khitchidi, a mixture of rice and daal and lots of ghee, having something of the consistency of mashed potatoes, holds pride of place in the comfort food department, either on its own or with a side of kaddi (a buttermilk soup) or keema (spicy minced meat) depending on the particular community one hails from. Choose your own brand of Indian-style comfort; as my friend Tiffany would say, “It’s all good.”

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