Food

Recipe: Betel Leaf Rasam – a perfect combination of health and taste

A symbol of truth, prosperity, fertility and abundance, betel leaves are an intrinsic part of Indian culture.  It is integral to festivals and the celebration of any auspicious occasion.  Apart from fruits and flowers, betel leaves are mandatorily bought before any function as they form a key part of the rituals.  Whether in engagements or weddings, betel leaves are a considered a symbol of truth.  Believed to have been planted by the Gods themselves, this dark green heart shaped leaf is a creeper and is native to India and South Asia.

Pic courtesy: SuzyQ
Pic courtesy: SuzyQ

Health Benefits Aplenty

A rich source of vitamin C, betel leaves are excellent for oral and digestive health.  They are known to have positive effects in healing stomach ulcers as well as constipation.   The leaves are replete with essential oils and have anti-inflammatory properties.  It is a known analgesic and hence used in the treatment of cuts and wounds.  The leaf also helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

It is key to note that the leaf is extremely versatile and is used in a wide variety of dishes including the ubiquitous paan, biryani, laddoo and even ice cream.  An easy way to incorporate it in your diet is to make a delicious rasam from the leaf.  A delectable concoction of varying flavours this one is the perfect combination of health and taste.   Read on to find out the recipe.

Betel Leaf or Vethalai Rasam Recipe

Easy and convenient to prepare, the below recipe makes the most delectable betel leaf rasam.  Vetrilai rasam is an interesting concoction of spices and healthy ingredients that has a warming effect on the body and is effective for minor problems like cold, cough and sore throat.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tender betel leaves
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 -2 tsp thick tamarind juice
  • 1 tbsp jaggery powder
  • 1 -2 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ghee

For grinding

  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp pepper corns

For tempering

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 Byadgi red chillies broken into pieces
  • 2-3 pods garlic

Method:

  • Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan. Dry roast the ingredients mentioned under “for grinding” until aromatic.  Cool and grind to a powder.
  • Remove the stalk of the betel leaves, chop it roughly and grind with a small quantity of water to extract the juice.
  • Take a thick bottomed vessel, add the extract of the betel leaves along with 2 cups water and heat on low flame. Add chopped tomatoes and boil on low flame.
  • Add the powder prepared in the first step as well as the tamarind juice.
  • Add salt, jaggery, turmeric and asafoetida; lower the flame and boil for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add curry leaves just before you switch off the flame.
  • Heat 1 tbsp ghee, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add cumin seeds and Byadgi red chillies and garlic.  Allow garlic to turn golden brown.  Pour tempering over the hot rasam.
  • Serve with hot rice or enjoy as a soup.
Betel Leaf Rasam
Betel Leaf Rasam

Notes:

  • Adjust jaggery and tamarind as per your taste.
  • Ensure that there are no hard stalks of the betel leaves and the leaves are young and tender.

This article was originally published in Seema Magazine. Click here and here for other interesting recipes.

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