Pepper Rasam aka Mensina Saru: An Elixir for New Mothers

pepper rasam
Image courtesy of Rashmi Gopal Rao

Slightly thick and creamy with a piquant aroma, this whitish pepper rasam is unlike any other.  Mention pepper rasam and you normally think of a light, watery soup that has distinct flavours of ginger and garlic apart from pepper.   But this one which is a native of Karnataka is refreshingly different.  Called Mensina saru which translates into pepper rasam, this one has the goodness of ingredients like black gram and dried coconut apart from pepper.  And guess what? This one has a secret ingredient which is milk! It does sound like a rather unusual to have milk in your rasam; but this has a reason as explained later.  Due to the presence of milk, this rasam is also called Haalu Menisina saru with Haalu meaning milk. 

Goodness galore

A very common and popular rasam in Karnataka, this one is specially prepared for new mothers.  Peppercorns are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and high anti-oxidant content and hence is excellent for building immunity.  This rasam is prepared sans any pulses so that it is easy to digest which is essential for breast feeding mothers.  While pepper generates heat in the body, milk helps neutralize any excess heat and provides the much-needed protein and minerals including calcium.  Black gram is also a rich source of protein and is excellent for digestive health.  Apart from new mothers, this recipe is also extremely effective in case you are suffering from a cold, cough or even sore throat.  It has a rejuvenating effect on the throat and helps heal your flu like symptoms in a jiffy!

Pepper Rasam Recipe

Here is an easy pepper rasam recipe that makes the best Mensina saru.  Here is a look:

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 4 tbsp split black gram (urad dal)
  • 4 tbsp rice
  • 8 tbsp dried coconut (dry copra)
  • 1 tsp clarified butter (ghee)
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4-5 cups of water

Method:

  • Dry roast urad dal, black peppercorn, rice and dry copra separately till the colour changes and it becomes aromatic.  Grind to a coarse mixture.
  • Boil water and add the ground mixture, turmeric, and salt and bring to a boil
  • Turn off the gas and add milk.
  • Heat ghee and add mustard seeds.  Once it splutters, add cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.  Pour over the hot rasam.
  • Serve with hot rice or enjoy as a soup.

Notes:

  • Adjust salt and pepper as per your taste.
  • You can use coconut milk if you are lactose intolerant.  If you are adding coconut milk, you do not have to add dried coconut while grinding.

This is part of a continuing series on the world of rasam, be sure to check out the last one, Avarekai aka Hyacinth Beans Rasam: A Seasonal Favourite