Twist on a Classic - Tomato and Lentil Rasam with Barley


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Tomato and Lentil Rasam with Barley

This is not exactly your traditional rasam, as rasams are typically brothy, thin and somewhat watery soups that are served along with a dal dish, typically as the second course of a south Indian meal. Tamarind and tomatoes do figure prominently in this somewhat unusual rasam as they ordinarily do, and the spices are ones that I usually include in a rasam. It makes for a delightful "gravy" to spoon over rice too. But this is a thicker version that includes pearl barley in addition to red lentils, serving not only to fill things out — making it a more filling and prominent feature of a meal — but also adding a tantalizing layer of texture. You can adjust the water content to make it thicker or thinner, depending on your preference. It goes especially well with vegetable side dishes and Indian flat breads if desired.

Of course I had to taste some before I served it, because that is what discerning cooks do. The first thing that struck me, apart from the smooth texture, with a hint of nutty flavor from the barley, a pleasant acidity from the tomatoes and the sweet and sour undertone from the tamarind. I also detected a hint of dill, but I did not use dill. So what was it that really added a unique quality to this rasam? It was authentic Greek oregano that I added at the end of the cooking time. What a delight for the palate. So many flavors but they all melded together for a rapturous melody that one will not soon forget.

Read this recipe »

Fakes - Greek Lentil Soup

Fakes - Greek Lentil Soup

I've made this classic Greek lentil, tomato and herb soup plenty of times already, and every time I do, I make some adjustments because I like to take recipes I have made before and tweak the flavors. This soup was part of a Greek themed meal that I served up the other weekend, along with Greek-style cauliflower gratin with feta and olives and a sun-dried tomato rice with fresh basil. It certainly was a feast and really not too complicated at all, especially if you do some of the preparation the day before and have a helper in the kitchen.

Read this recipe »

Quick and Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Quick and Easy Vegan BBQ Sauce

Time and energy permitting, I always prefer to make my sauces and dressings at home. Not only are they cheaper than store-bought versions, the taste is far superior and the cook gets to control the portions and seasonings. Usually homemade condiments last for a least a few weeks in a covered container in the fridge depending on what you are making up.

Read this recipe »

Herbed Potato and Green Bean Salad with Olives

Herbed Potato and Green Bean Salad with Olives

Potatoes are one of those vegetables that pretty much everyone enjoys. The versatile spud can be prepared in so many ways, that I imagine a cook could up with a different dish for everyday of the year. One of my favorites are potato salads. Especially if they are dairy-free, potato salads are great for potlucks, family gatherings, picnics or other outdoor activities. Everyone will be pleased. This salad also happens to be extremely easy to make and a suitable side for any meal. Simplicity in this case is an illustration that elegance can be prepared in a short period of time. This combination of fingerling potatoes, green beans, plump and salty olives, fresh basil, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil would proudly complement a gourmet meal.

Read this recipe »