My Amma’s Rasam

by Anupama Krishnakumar

Anupama Krishnakumar shares her love and excitement for her favourite comfort food, her mother’s rasam, in verse.

When I was a school-goer,
after I had stuffed all books
and notebooks into my bag
and pushed the soul-puncturing
inertia to the back of my mind,
getting ready to leave for school,
the aroma of rasam,
my amma’s rasam
would come wafting into
the room, from the kitchen…

Its heavenly fragrance, so enticing,
and uplifting, would soon fill
every corner of our little home,
raising our spirits magically.
A perfect amalgamation of tangy
tamarind water, tomato puree,
salt and asafoetida, and a sprinkling
of fresh green coriander and curry leaves,
bubbling poetically on a medium flame…
(but) that’s not all that makes
amma’s rasam, the magical potion that it is.

It’s the rasa-podi, as we fondly
call, the mustard-coloured powder
that amma would meticulously
Get ground by mixing right amounts
Of Toor dal, Dhaniya and red chillies.
“Amma, you should patent this rasa-podi
recipe,” I often tell her for, amma’s rasam,
with her signature kai-maNam*
Is unmatched in its alluring taste and aroma.
And, from aunts and uncles to cousins,
from appa’s colleagues to Sister’s friends and
mine too, it has had fans far too many!

So much for one rasam, you may think,
but my amma’s rasam is my comfort food
that I’d run back to during college vacations
or when I was working, and still do.
My amma’s rasam is a warm hug,
it’s my tangy connection to my past.
It’s my companion in my journey of growing up,
the epitome of my childhood nostalgia.
It’s my idea of belonging –
Of my feeling and being
At home.

* A Tamil phrase used to describe the unique, personal touch that one brings to food that he/she cooks, giving it a distinct taste

Pic by

Anupama Krishnakumar is an engineer-turned journalist. She co-edits Spark and is also the author of two books, ‘Fragments of the Whole’, a flash fiction collection and ‘Ways Around Grief & Other Stories’, a short-story collection. Her website is
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