Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Mysore Rasam: A Taste of Home and Heritage. Bonus cheat sheet on how to capture steam.

This post is longer than a giraffe's neck, so grab your favorite beverage, settle into your comfiest chair, and prepare for an odyssey of words that rival even the most epic of sagas! Scroll down for a cheat sheet -  - how to capture steam.

Growing up as a South Indian girl in North India and eventually moving to the USA has been a journey filled with rich experiences that have shaped my understanding of tradition, heritage, and culture.

My story begins in a small town in North India. Our culture was deeply embedded in our daily lives, from the language we spoke to the food we ate. Every year we took a long two-month vacation to my grandparents in Mumbai and in Bengaluru. Even though my maternal grandmother was no more, the home had the vibe of the traditional family home. At my father’s home, I vividly remember the aromas of my grandmother's kitchen, where she would prepare traditional South Indian dishes with a loving touch. Our family gatherings were a cacophony of laughter, music, and the clinking of steel plates. Some special meals were relished on banana leaves.

Even though it was all India, there were significant cultural differences. The language changed, the food transformed, and even the way people dressed was different. I felt like an outsider as a young child, not knowing who I really was.  But as time passed, I began to appreciate the beauty of diversity in India. I embraced the North Indian culture, learned the language, and developed a taste for both South & North Indian cuisine.

The amalgamation of these two distinct regional cultures within my family made our traditions and heritage even more meaningful. We celebrated festivals like Diwali with the grandeur of North India and Ganesh Chaturthi with the authenticity of South India. It was a harmonious blend that showcased the unity in diversity that India is known for.

Fast forward to my move to the USA, and I found myself in an entirely new cultural landscape. The diversity here was on a whole new level. People from all corners of the world lived side by side. My South Indian heritage and my experiences in North India had prepared me well to embrace this new world. I discovered a vibrant Indian community, where traditions and cultural celebrations thrived. It was heartwarming to see people from various parts of India coming together to celebrate festivals and share their unique traditions.

Living in the USA also gave me a fresh perspective on my Indian heritage. I realized that my culture was not confined to geographical boundaries but was a part of my identity, something I could carry with me wherever I went. I became an ambassador of sorts, sharing my culture with friends and colleagues. Indian festivals became an opportunity to showcase our rich traditions through dance, music, and cuisine.

As I reflect on my journey, I see how the interplay of tradition, heritage, and culture has enriched my life. It's not just about preserving the customs of the past but about adapting and evolving while staying rooted in one's identity. I've learned that culture is not static; it's a living, breathing entity that can thrive and flourish even in the most unexpected places. My upbringing as a South Indian in North India and my subsequent life in the USA have made me appreciate the beauty of diversity and the strength that comes from embracing one's heritage while being open to new experiences and cultures.

This tapestry of cultural diversity that I've been fortunate to weave through my life has become an integral part of who I am. From the vibrant hues of South Indian traditions to the lively rhythms of North India and now the kaleidoscope of cultures in the USA, each thread has contributed to the fabric of my identity. These experiences have not only opened my heart and mind to the world's rich tapestry but have also taught me that our differences are a source of strength and beauty. I'm immensely thankful for the journey that has shaped me, and I carry the colors of these diverse cultures with pride in my own unique design.

Today I am excited to share my maternal grandma's Mysore Rasam. There are a million variations of Rasam recipes ...here's to one more.

Mysore Rasam is more than just a dish; it's a culinary journey through the heart of South Indian flavors and traditions. Hailing from the royal city of Mysore in Karnataka, this aromatic and tangy soup-like preparation is a beloved staple on dining tables across the region.

What makes Mysore Rasam truly special is its distinctive blend of spices and the expert balance of flavors. To create this delectable concoction, one begins with a fragrant mixture of roasted spices like cumin, pepper, and coriander, ground to perfection. This spice blend is then gently simmered with cooked lentils and tomatoes, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic base. The magic happens when a tadka (tempering) of ghee, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chilies are poured over the rasam, releasing a tantalizing aroma that awakens the senses.

Mysore Rasam embodies the essence of South Indian cuisine - it's warm, comforting, and invigorating. Traditionally, it's served as a soothing soup, a side dish to rice, or even sipped on its own as a digestive after a hearty meal. It's a delightful embodiment of the region's culinary prowess and its dedication to preserving age-old recipes that are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of South India. It's a reminder that in every spoonful of food, there lies a story of a culture, a history, and a deep appreciation for the art of cooking.

Steam Photography 

Steam, a transient ballet of water and heat, weaves its ethereal story in the heart of every kitchen. A silent poet in the culinary world.

Invisible yet ever-present, steam rises from a simmering pot or a bubbling kettle. It carries with it the promise of warmth, flavor, and comfort. It's a reminder that the simplest of ingredients, under the alchemy of heat, can become extraordinary.

As a photographer, I've been drawn to this enchanting phenomenon. With each click of my camera, I capture the fleeting elegance of steam. The dance of the swirls & shapes. Here is a quick cheat sheet for those of you who want to try steam photography. 

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