Amla or Gooseberry Rasam: A Perfect Blend of Taste and Health

amla rasam
Amla or Indian gooseberry (image credits: Rashmi Gopal Rao)

Tangy with a slight hint of sweetness, amla or the Indian gooseberry is a superfood we are all familiar with.  A common sight especially in the winter, amla pickles and preserves are often made during the season to last the whole year through.  Known as Phyllanthus emblica botanically, Amala is called “Nellikai” in Kannada and “Usiri” in Telugu and is the size of a small plum.  Consumed widely in the fresh and dried form, amla is a powerhouse of goodness and packs a punch in terms of nutrition. 

Super Berry

A very important ingredient in traditional Indian medicine, amla is loaded with vitamin E and C.  Since it offers innumerable health benefits, it is used in the treatment of diseases like high cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure.  Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, amla is known to be rich in antioxidants and hence used to strengthen the immune system of the body.  Hence it is used for the treatment of cold, cough, weakness and fatigue.  Given its healing properties, amla is also widely used for the treatment of joint pains as well as osteoarthritis. It is also believed to have a positive effect on digestive, liver and pancreas health apart from being good for the skin and hair.

Flavours aplenty

While it is common to prepare amla pickles, jams and dried candies, amla rasam is a unique dish that is replete with nutrition.  A perfect immunity booster, this one has a spicy-sour taste with a slight hint of sweetness typical of the berry.  With the goodness of spices and lentils, this one ranks high on taste and flavours too.  It is a speciality during the winter season as it is known to generate heat in the body and helps build immunity.  In Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, amla rasam is a dish prepared during the festival of Sankranti.

Here is a quick and easy amla rasam recipe that makes the best amla rasam. 

amla rasam
Image courtesy of Novotel, Hyderabad Airport

Amla Rasam Recipe

Easy and convenient to prepare, the below recipe makes the most delectable amla rasam

Ingredients

  • 1 cup amla deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 green chillies
  • 1 tsp ginger chopped
  • 2 tbsp jaggery powder
  • 1 -2 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee

For grinding

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp pepper corns
  • 1 tsp black gram/urad dal
  • 2 tsp pigeon pea/toor dal

For tempering

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 Byadgi red chillies broken into pieces
  • 2-3 pods garlic

Method:

  • Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan.  Dry roast the ingredients mentioned under “for grinding” until aromatic.  Cool and grind to a powder.
  • Grind amla, ginger and green chillies to a paste adding a small quantity of water.
  • Take a thick bottomed vessel, add the ground amla paste and 2 cups water and heat on low flame.
  • Add the powder prepared in the first step and allow the mixture to boil.
  • Add salt, jaggery, turmeric and asafoetida; lower the flame and boil for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add curry leaves just before you switch off the flame.
  • Heat 1 tbsp ghee, add mustard seeds.  Once it splutters, add cumin seeds and Byadgi red chillies and garlic.  Allow garlic to turn golden brown.  Pour tempering over the hot rasam.
  • Serve with hot rice or enjoy as a soup.

Notes:

  • Adjust jaggery, salt and green chillies as per your taste.
  • You can also reduce the quantity of amla in case you want your rasam less sour.
  • You can also add 1 tbsp of tamarind juice if you like your rasam to be more tangy.

This is part of a continuing series on the world of rasam, be sure to check out the last one, Tamarind Rasam: A Concoction of Diverse Flavours