Betel Leaf, also called as Vethalai (in Tamil) and Tamalapaku (in Telugu) is so popular in South India. The leaf is used in a number of ways – not particularly cooking though. Betel Leaf is considered one of the auspicious items that is used during festivals and poojas (prayers) – often offered to God. Other than that, this leaf is given along with Bananas, Betel Nut and some gift to the Sumangali (married) ladies as a return gift in South India. The betel leaf is full of medicinal properties and is often taken after a heavy meal to help digest the food. There are number of fillings used along with the betel leaves to have sweet, spicy combinations – infact one can see a number of paan-walas next to every restaurant. OK back to the recipe now.
Couple of weeks back, I was down with a severe sore throat and my mom suggested me to make this flavorful spicy Vethalai Rasam/ Tamalapaku Charu or Betel Leaf Soup – which is real quick to prepare. With the addition of black peppercorns and cumin seeds along with red chillies, it does turn out a bit spicy but that’s exactly what you want when you have sore throat isnt it? The flavour and juice of betel leaves coupled with other spices – it was oh-so-heavenly to have hot bowlfuls every now and then throughout the day. Not only that it can be had as it is, it goes really well with hot rice – yumm!
To make Vethalai Rasam | Tamalapaku Charu | Betel Leaf Soup
What I used –
- Betel Leaves/Vethalai/Tamalapaku, 4-5 leaves
- Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
- Black Peppercorns, 1 tsp
- Dried Red Chillies, 2
- Tamarind Pulp, ½ tsp
- Ghee/Clarified Butter, ½ tsp
- Mustard Seeds, ½ tsp
- Curry Leaves, a few
- Asafoetida, a generous pinch
- Salt, as required
- Water, as required
How I used –
1. Wash and pat the betel leaves dry. Have the cumin seeds, peppercorns and red chillies ready.
2. In a mixer, add roughly chopped betel leaves along with cumin seeds, peppercorns and red chillies. Blend it for 1 min to form a rough powder.
3. Mix some water with tamarind pulp and make it watery. In a bowl, add the prepared powder along with tamarind water. Add additional water – may be a cup and half. Add salt. Mix well.
4. On medium flame, let the mixture/charu/rasam come to a rolling boil. Check for the salt and spiciness. Add more water at this stage if the rasam/charu seems too thick.
5. In a small pan, heat ½ teaspoon of ghee/clarified butter and add mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Add the washed curry leaves and a generous pinch of asafoetida. Add this tempering to the boiling rasam/charu. Mix well.
6. Serve hot as it is, to be had as soup or with hot rice as a meal.
- Remove the stalks of the betel leaves before roughly chopping them.
- Adjust the spice levels as per your preference. This rasam/charu is on the spicier side.
- This doesn’t need to boil for more than 7-10 mins. Keep reheating the rasam/charu multiple times during the day and have the soup hot – to get instant relief from running nose and sore throat.
- Instead of ghee, oil can be used for the tempering.
now this is a unique dish for me, have never heard about it....thanks for sharing! 🙂
Thank you M 🙂
Lynz Real Cooking
this is something I have never heard of, very unique and lovely!! thanks for sharing!
Thanks Lynn 🙂
wow so different recipe and betel leaves have very good medicinal properties... should try this when I am back In India....:)
Oh yes Bharani 🙂 Pls do try this out 🙂
Traditionally Modern Food
During my trip to India I learnt betal leaf garlic rice.. Rasam looks inviting thanks for teaching me a new way to use betal leaf after oooja
Wow betel leaf garlic rice sounds delicious 🙂 Yeah true Vidya, this recipe is a way to use up the betel leaves after our pooja 🙂
interesting. Looks so healthy and flavorful dear !
Thanks Kushi 🙂
The Girl Next Door
Oh, wow! What a coincidence! I just wrote about betel leaf bajjis on my blog. 😀
This recipe sounds lovely. I had never heard of it before! Will surely try it out some time. Thanks!
You don't use boiled toor dal in this recipe?
BTW, we make a rasam with dried neem flowers in a similar way - without toor dal. Tastes really yummy and is good for health too. Have you ever had it?
Wow betel leaf bajjis? amazing man. You reminded me the vepampoo rasam. Should try it soon.
Yeah, TGND posted about betel leaf bajjis but they were packed and not freshly made.
Checked out your post 🙂
I usually dont add cooked toor dal to any of my rasam preparations, TGND. Amma sometimes does but MIL's rasam is always without the toor dal. Especially for this recipe I skipped it as I wanted it to be spicy for my sore throat 🙂
I have never had neem flower rasam.. sounds interesting 🙂 We add neem flowers to the Ugadi pachadi. Thats the only way I eat neem flowers 😀
We do vethalai kashayam. This is an awesome idea. Great share
Vethalai Kashayam - sounds very healthy 🙂
Wow unique and flavorsome Rasam.... just fab...
Thank you Chitra 🙂
The Girl Next Door
Tried this out today - came out okay-ish. there is a slightly bitter taste to the rasam, don't know why. That said, I loved the way one spoonful of this rasam opened up my throat and nasal cavities! 🙂 Also, the consistency of my rasam was not as beautiful as yours - mine looked thin and watery.
TGND - thank you for trying. Not sure why there was a bitter taste. It only would have the flavour and taste if betel leaves. Did you leave the ground paste for long? Not sure if it oxidises. Yeah, it works wonders for sore throat and blocked nose 🙂 If its too watery, you can boil it for some more time, that should thicken it up a bit.