Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Milagu Jeeram Podi & Milagu Rasam - Black Pepper Powder and Soup

MILAGU JEERAM PODI (Black Pepper & Cumin Powder) and MILAGU RASAM (Black Pepper Soup)

We loved to visit my uncles place which was nestled amongst the ancient temples of Tanjore and its green paddy fields and lush lily ponds. Mama (maternal uncle) was ever ready with an agenda to guide us through the various temples, forts and the river and sea sides around his small village which housed a mammoth temple for Lord Mahalinga Swami. Mami (aunty) was eager to welcome us with a well stalked kitchen and she treated us to her yummy native dishes. We drooled over her delicious pitlays, rasavangis, tanjavoor kadambam rice, cashew uthappams and the special tanjavoor milagai vattal.
On one such pleasant visit Mama took us to the temple town of Thirukkadaiur. Every town, village or even a small settlement in Tanjore district turned out to be a temple town and we had to get down from the car at the drop of the hat to view the great architectural wonders of yore.
The presiding deity at Thirukkadaiur is Lord Amruthaghateswarar and His consort is Goddess Abhirami. Markendeya was Lord Shiva’s ardent devotee and was blessed with only 16 years of life in this world. At the appointed time the Pasa (Noose) of Yama Dharma ( God of death) which was meant for Markandeya who was clutching the Lingam, fell over the Lingam as well. Enraged at this, the Lord exterminated Yama. Later Yama was revived and Markandeya was blessed to stay 16 all his life and justice prevailed.

After offering our prayers for a long life for each and every member in the family we went round the expansive temple appreciating each and every piece of sculpture without heeding the heat of the blazing sun. The broad and lengthy paved path ways around the temple and the kalyani ( Pond) had become so hot that even chapattis would have puffed up just at the touch of the stone. Unable to bear the heat and hunger any longer we ran out of the temple to wear our foot ware. This was a long time ago- almost 35 years- when there were no hotels or restaurants in the small place. The benevolent temple priest offered to feed us for which he would not quote any price. His house was next to the temple and his wife cooked for us. We were amazed when she served us hot rice, hot (spicy) milagu jeeram podi (black pepper and cumin) and hot (spicy and hot temperature wise!) milagu rasam (black pepper soup) within such a short notice. We were more wonder struck when she served roasted papads which had imprints of advertisements on them! We were all sweating and red in the face due to the heat of the sun and the excellent meal. Never did we taste such a lip smacking meal in all our lives.

MILAGU JEERAM PODI (Black Pepper and Cumin Powder)

Pepper – 4 tbsps
Cumin seeds – 4 tbsps
Salt – ½ tsp

1.Dry roast pepper until it starts cracking
2.Add cumin seeds and roast till it gives out a pleasant aroma.
3.Powder it coarsely with salt when it cools down.
4.Store it in a dry container.

TO SERVE - take some hot rice in a plate. Add the powder and salt to taste on top of the rice. Heat ghee until the ghee has melted and is hot. Pour the hot ghee over the powder. Enjoy the sizzling noise as the powder gets instantly fried. Now mix thorougly with the rice. This is very good for digestion and also alleviates flatulence, and tastes excellent as well!

MILAGU RASAM (Black Pepper Soup)
Tamarind – 1 small lemon size
Salt – 2 tsps
Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Coarsely grind the following into a powder. No roasting is required.
Pepper – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal – 1 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
1. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice.
2. Add salt, asafoetida and curry leaves.
3. Boil until the raw smell disappears.
4. Grind the four ingredients into a slightly coarse powder.
5. Add the powder and add water immediately to make one litre of rasam.
6. Let the rasam be on low flame.
7. Cover it with a lid to preserve flavour.
8. Keep watch by sliding the lid now and then.
9. Switch off flame when the rasam is just about to boil.
10.Heat ghee and add mustard seeds, and add the seasoning when the mustard splutters.

Drink the hot rasam as an appetizer before a meal. Or enjoy with hot rice with a spoon of ghee. You can even chill it and have it just like that as a beverage – like jal jeera.
Both these dishes go to Think Spice -Think Pepper Event at Divya's Dil Se blog. Here are more details about Think Spice event, in Sunita's site.