Soup for the soul

Alisha Shinde
Thursday, 30 November 2017

Including a delicious, healthy, hot bowl of soup in your winter diet is a good idea. And if you are looking for variety, try the flavoursome Indian soups

With winter here, you can’t say no to a piping hot bowl of soup to start your meal. Just like salad, having a good hearty bowl of soup has a lot of health benefits as one gets to eat more veggies packed with wholesome nutrients. Besides, you get a variety of soups in India from different regions which makes it all the more flavoursome and irresistible.     

Shorba, the famous North Indian soup, is served in almost all restaurants serving Indian cuisine. Shorba is considered to be a healthy soup which is extremely good in curing cough and cold and rejuvenating one’s taste buds. Cinnamon, cumin, peppercorns and bay leaves are a few of the ingredients that enhance its taste. 

“Tomato Shorba is of Mughal origin and is good for health in terms of the respiratory system as it contains black pepper and tomatoes and is also packed with proteins and vitamins,” says Vinod Dighe, junior sous chef, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Pune. 

The Shorba can be made in a variety of ways with spinach, beetroot, mixed vegetables, green peas, to name a few. The recipe remains the same but one can change the ingredients.

Stew is a light soup, which originated primarily in Kerala. “The Stew is cooked with coconut, onion, curry leaves and ginger. Because of the nutritional values of the ingredients that are used to make it, it is also accepted by ayurveda,” says Sheik Mohideen,  corporate chef, Savya Rasa.  

Easy to digest, Stew tastes the best when served with Appam and Idiyappam which is not only a good combination but also an ideal food habit to follow. The Kerala Style stew ensures that there is no chance of stomach problems.

Eraichi, Kozhi and Chicken Stews are a few of the other varieties that are equally delicious, healthy and good to beat the winter chill.

Talking about the origin of Paya, Rajat Grover, co-founder, 1 BHK Superbar, says, “With the Silk Route bringing in more and more spices, along with different types of trade, it also brought Paya Soup from the Persian Gulf to India. Made from lamb legs, this soup is an absolute delicacy of Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh.” 

Along with the lamb, ginger, black peppercorns, white pepper, cardamom and cinnamon are cooked together which is highly beneficial as it boosts muscle health and is also rich in minerals which supports the immune system. 

Rasam has been closely associated with the Deccan region including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra. Even though the recipe and ingredients are more or less the same in all the regions, the tastes and names of this light soup vary. 

“You may know, Saaru from Karnataka, Chaaru from Andhra Pradesh and even Rassa from Maharashtra, but what you may not know is that all these are just different names of Rasam,” says Manu Nair, corporate executive chef, Southindies, UpSouth and BonSouth. 

Rasam has a heavy influence of tamarind, tomatoes, curry leaves, coriander and red chillies which give the Rasam a light yet tangy flavour, and is packed with nutrients and also rich in vitamins.

Apart from the regular Rasam one can get experimental and have the other variants such as Inji Rasam, Maanga Rasam, Veppam Rasam and even Pineapple Rasam. 

Soup is a comfort food you should not miss for the world in winter. And if you have so many varieties, you should indeed explore. 

RASAM
Ingredients
- Tightly packed seedless tamarind... - 1 tbsp
- Warm or hot water...     - 1/2 cup
- Chopped tomato... - 1
- Water... - 2 cups
- Curry leaves... - 10 to 12
- Asafoetida as required
- Turmeric powder... - 1/2 tsp
- Cumin seeds... - 3 tsp
- Whole black pepper... - 2 tsp
- Roughly chopped garlic... - 6 to 7 
- Mustard seeds... - 1 tsp
- Dry red chillies... - 2 to 3
- Chopped coriander leaves...     - 2 tsp
- Salt to taste

METHOD
- Soak tamarind in warm water for 20 to 30 minutes, squeeze the pulp from the soaked tamarind and keep it aside. 
- Mix cumin seeds, whole black pepper and roughly chopped garlic and grind it into a semi coarse powder. 
- Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and keep it on a low flame.
- Add curry leaves, red chillies and asafoetida and fry until the red chillies turn  deep red. 
- Add tomatoes and saute till they soften.
- Add the semi coarse powder along with turmeric powder.
- Stir and add the tamarind pulp.
- Add water and stir well.
- Season with salt.
- Let the Rasam come to a gentle boil (uncovered).
- Add chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve plain or with steamed rice. 
(Recipe by Manu R Nair, corporate executive chef, Southindies, UpSouth and BonSouth.) 

STEW
Ingredients
- Beans... - 55 gm
- Onion... - 30 gm
- Ginger... - 10 gm
- Green chilli... - 10 gm
- Curry leaves... - 5 gm
- Potato... - 50 gm
- Carrot... - 30 gm
- Coconut oil... - 2 tsp
- Coconut... - 250 gm
- Black pepper... - 5 gm
- Salt as required

METHOD
- Grate the coconut and make thick and thin coconut milk.
- Boil the vegetables and keep aside.
- In a frying pan, add coconut oil and saute sliced onion and curry leaves for two minutes.
- Add chopped ginger, green chilly and thin coconut milk and cook for five minutes. 
- Add the boiled vegetables, add salt and cook for three minutes.
- Add thick coconut milk and turn off the heat.
- Add black pepper powder.
- Serve hot with Appam. 

(Recipe by Sheik Mohideen, corporate chef, Savya Rassa)

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