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Recipe | A Comforting Peppercorn Lentil Soup Aka Milagu Rasam and Loving Tributes to Women in My Life

8 March 2013 7 Comments

Recipe | A Comforting Peppercorn Lentil Soup Aka Milagu Rasam

World is celebrating International Women’s day today. Hmm…Is a single day enough to celebrate womanhood? May be, who cares…

With the prevalence of domestic violence, sexual harassment, dowry deaths and many other forms of repression against women, I doubt if we really need even that one day to celebrate our so called ‘freedom’.

A lot has been written & talked about gender issues, and I know that the messages may not reach to even a fraction of those who are involved in such heinous crimes. The root cause of such acts could be many, to me lack of education and sensitivity towards women are the two most important factors.

Why can’t some people stop looking at the world from under the belt, there is more to life….Huh.

To me it may not be feasible to fight for these social stigmas and oppression against women at the macro level but I am doing my bit at micro level by enforcing right values in my teen aged son.


And one of the lessons is to appreciate and respect the women in his life, mother, sister, grand-mom  aunts, female friends… I hope that he grows into a mature individual tomorrow who is also sensitive towards prevailing gender issues.

Coming to the post and a recipe, its just a co-incidence that I am writing about women in my life on this day….

For the blessings bestowed on me…some countable, seen and told and some uncountable, unseen and untold…one life is not enough to acknowledge all the women in my life.

Two of the beautiful women who made a significant difference in my life are my mom and my mother-in-law.

Listing out the blessings here will belittle their deeds but there are a few I could not resist to share.



Of all the values in life the most important that my mom gave me is the ‘strong sense of self’ and to firmly ‘believe in yourself’. Seventy plus, staying alone and still going strong, she  manages all household works by herself, goes out to pay her bills, buy medicines, vegetables and engage herself in gardening and knitting during her free time. Apart from my encyclopedia of authentic recipes she is also a picture of positive self-image I get my inner strength from.


With MIL and FIL..decked up in traditional attire to seek blessings from our family God near a village.

After the initial resistance to inter state marriage we now gel together like ice in water. Yes, she is my mother-in-law, who patiently taught me the Tam Brahm ways of living, traditions, rituas and cooking over time and gently took me under her wings.

I feel a sense of pride in writing it openly that we have been together for the last 17 years and there has been not a single moment of misunderstanding or unwanted arguments between both of us. Sounds unreal even to my ears 🙂

If she gives me space to do things I love, I give her the liberty & right to question me at any time.

Here is one of the recipes she taught me when I first visited my MIL – Peppercorn-cumin Soup or Milagu-Jeragam Rasam as called in Tamil.

Peppercorn-cumin Soup Aka  Milagu-Jeragam Rasam

lentil soup of pepper rasam, vegetarian recipe


  • 2 tbsp. split pigeon peas or Toor dal
  • 1 large tomato
  • Lemon size ball of tamarind
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Salt as desired
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder
  • Coriander or curry leaves to garnish


  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp. oil

lentil soup of pepper rasam, vegetarian recipe

Method; Wash and finely chop tomato. Dry roast cumin seeds (jeera), black peppercorns (kali mirch) and coriander for 5-6 minutes on medium heat. Make sure that the seeds do not get over roasted. You can make a large batch of the same powder and store in an airtight container for future use.

Wash and cook pigeon peas with turmeric in a pressure cooker till done. Cool the cooker and mash the lentil with a ladle.

Soak tamarind in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes and extract juice. Discard the pulp and add 3 more cups pf plain water in it.

Add chopped tomatoes and asafoetida powder (hing) in the tamarind extract and bring it to boil and let it cook for 15 minutes.

Pour boiled and mashed lentil mixture in it and add salt, cumin-black peppercorn-coriander powder and let it simmer for just about 2-3 minutes.

Heat oil in a small wok and crackle mustard seeds for tempering.

Take off the lentil soup or Rasam from the flame and add the tempering, 1 tsp. lemon juice and garnish with coriander leaves or curry leaves.

Serve the Rasam or warm peppercorn lentil soup with plain rice or as an appetizer.


  1. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic while boiling the water for making the soup.
  2. You can avoid adding lentils or boiled pigeon peas in the recipe and still get a warm and refreshing soup.


Though a little late but am glad that I came out of the veil of a daughter, a wife and a mother to appreciate in broader perspective, the most precious gift of God – womanhood!

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  • Priya said:

    Happy women’s day Sanjeeta, well written and lovely tribute to those two wonderful women..Comforting soup aka rasam.Would love to have a sip of it.

  • Pratiba Bhat said:

    That is a beautifully written post! I can completely understand what you have written. Mine too was an interstate wedding 😉 The best part is, you learn a new cuisine altogether.
    Pratiba Bhat recently posted..Thavala Dosa / Thaval Dosa and a peek into Bidanur FortMy Profile

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said:

    Hurray for strong positive female role models in our lives, each and everyone of them make the world a better place.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Rosemary Yam or Sweet Potato GaletteMy Profile

  • dassana said:

    you look so pretty in the pic with your mil & fil. interesting and contemplating read.
    dassana recently posted..poori bhajiMy Profile

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala said:

    Happy Women’s Day! This is so comforting. And amazing pics as usual. 🙂
    Charul @ Tadka Masala recently posted..Akki RotiMy Profile

  • Swati Sapna said:

    This is really a heart-felt post Sanjeeta! Beautifully written and touches a chord with everyone 🙂 And love the Milagu rasam – its just like the women in our lives – comforting, homely, safe and spicy!! 😀

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com said:

    A great and sweet tribute!! Delicious rasam 🙂
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com recently posted..Blood Orange & Fennel SaladMy Profile

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