20 September, 2014
Dried Neem flower soup (Veppam poo rasam)
Today I bring you a very traditional recipe, a treasured recipe from my mother. A very healthy soup or rasam made with dried neem flowers. I have not seen neem flowers sold anywhere outside India. Neem is known for its therapeutic (antibiotic, anti-diabetic) properties and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine since ancient times.
The dried flowers can be bought in herb shops in India. My mom just collects flowers falling off a neem tree in the yard of our house, cleans them and dries them in the sun. How simple! She gets me a packet of this whenever she gets to visit me. “Make this at least once a month, it is a good for the digestive system”. I have always liked this ‘rasam’ (‘ras’ in Sanskrit, meaning extract) that is traditionally eaten in our home mixed with rice in the main course, but I love it just as a soup, slightly bitter, sour and tangy!
Neem flower rasam
Neem flowers- 2 tbsp.
tamarind- a small amount (or 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste)
tomato- 1 medium
red chilly- 1 or 2
asafoetida powder- a pinch
salt- to taste
water- 2-3 cups
ghee (clarified butter)- 1 tsp.
mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp.
* Extract juice from tamarind by soaking it in warm water and squeezing it out.
* Add mustard seeds to ghee in a pan, wait till they sputter. Then add red chilly and neem flowers and roast gently on low heat till an aroma develops.
* Add finely chopped tomato, water, tamarind paste (or extract from whole tamarind), asafoetida powder. Let it come to a boil.
* Lower the heat and let it come to a boil one more time.
* Serve warm.
* A small amount of well-mashed, cooked lentils (toor or split pigeon peas) may be added to make this a more filling soup.
* Some curry leaves can be added for more flavor.