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Why every bowl of rasam reminds me of the tyranny of Brahmanism

For years in my home, the last meal before we set out for any travel has been a rasam saadham(rasam rice)

Innumerable overnight bus journeys on bad state highways, train journeys to small-town relatives, flights to metropolitan centres, or even the occasional road trip – they had all been fortified with a hearty plate of tomato rasam and rice before we left, the time of the day being irrelevant.

. . .

Rasam, we were told, was the ultimate pre-travel food, soothing, restorative, light on the stomach and comforting. For my mother, even the process of making a rasam is a calming and restorative.

One particular time when I’d felt I’d sufficiently mastered the art of family cooking, I offered to make the rasam before we left and my mother reluctantly agreed. Feeling emboldened, I experimented and added some garlic, whole pepper, and cloves, thinking it might add layers of flavour. I never lived it down. “Rasatillai lavangu,” my mom exclaimed in Tamil, “I’ve never heard of cloves in rasam!” The garlic and pepper didn’t meet her approval either. “We never put garlic and pepper in rasam in our house, my amma would have been aghast,” was her response.

It took me some years to realise that my mother staunchly followed a Brahmin rasam recipe.

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Tags: #brahmin, #castesystem, #food, #india
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