In the Mumbai Monsoon, when the rain and winds are lashing against the glass panes, this Clear Lemon Broth is such a heart-warming treat. With its clean flavours of fresh lemon, ginger and chilies, served hot, this broth is refreshing and light on the palate. I conceived this dish from the quintessential ‘Rasam’, a south Indian appetizer which is served with almost every meal. Rasam exists in various forms and basically consists of tamarind water, cooked lentils, ground spice powder, tomatoes and a tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asofetida. I have given this age old recipe a modern twist by taking out the spices and tempering yet retaining some of the essential flavours.
- Water – 400 mililitres
- Yellow Lentil – 1/2 cup, cooked and mashed with a whisk
- Lemon Juice – Squeezed from two whole lemons
- Red Chilly – 1, slit lenghtwise, de-seeded and julienned
- Ginger – 1/2 inch, julienned
- Turmeric Powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Salt to season
- Few springs of fresh coriander
Place the water in a saucepan on medium heat, along with the ginger, most of the julienned chilly ( reserving a few for garnish), turmeric powder and salt. Let the broth absorb the flavours on a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
Take the mashed yellow lentil in a bowl and add half a cup of water and whisk well. Pass this through a nylon strainer such that only the water from the lentil passes through and the lentils stay behind. I have done this to get a clear consistency but you may avoid this step if you would like a more substantial broth. Now add the strained lentil water into the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and let the whole mixture simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon juice and take the pan off the heat. Garnish with fresh coriander, julienned chillies and serve hot.
This is great served as a first course in big soup bowls ahead of a heavy meal or in shot glasses at dinner parties to tickle the taste buds, making it convenient to serve guests standing around. This can even be transformed into something more substantial when served with steamed wontons as a soup or with rice as is traditional eaten in a South Indian home.