Rasam is a sour, fragrant and refreshing broth that can be
enjoyed on its own or served alongside a curry-style dish, as it is
400 gmmung dhal (see note)20 gmginger, coarsely chopped3long green chillies, coarsely chopped2vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped50 gmghee4golden shallots, finely chopped4garlic cloves, finely chopped1 tbspbrown mustard seeds3 tspground turmericTo serve:coriander sprigs and steamed basmati riceRasam1 tbspghee2golden shallots, thinly sliced1 tspbrown mustard seeds2small dried red chillies, coarsely crumbled1 tspwhole black peppercorns1 tspcumin seeds2garlic cloves, finely chopped1 tbsptamarind purée, or to taste½ tspground turmericCrisp cauliflower120 gmghee3golden shallots, thinly sliced2long green chillies, thinly sliced2garlic cloves, thinly sliced2 tspbrown mustard seeds200 gmcauliflower, cut into floretsTo taste:fresh curry leaves
Soak mung dhal in cold water for 1 hour, drain and transfer to a large saucepan. Add 2 litres cold water, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and skim any scum that rises to the surface.
Meanwhile, process ginger and chilli in a food processor to a coarse paste, add tomato and process to combine. Heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot and garlic, and sauté until tender and lightly caramelised (4-5 minutes). Add mustard seeds and turmeric, sauté until fragrant (1 minute), then add chilli mixture and sauté until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add to mung dhal, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until mung dhal is very tender (1¼-1½ hours). Season to taste with sea salt, whisk to break up dhal and keep warm.
For rasam, heat ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallots, mustard seeds and chilli, and sauté until lightly caramelised and seeds start to pop (6-8 minutes). Meanwhile, coarsely crush peppercorns and cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add garlic and pound to combine, then add to the shallot mixture with tamarind purée, turmeric and 500ml water. Season to taste with salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Keep warm.
For crisp cauliflower, heat ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, chilli and garlic, and sauté until tender (2-3 minutes). Add mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, then add cauliflower and sauté until crisp and golden (8-10 minutes). Add curry leaves, season to taste with salt and keep warm.
Serve dhal, topped with crisp cauliflower and scattered with coriander, with steamed rice and rasam.
Note Mung dhal (dried mung beans) is available
from Indian grocers and select delicatessens.