Yotam Ottolenghi's Sticky Rice Balls in Tamarind Rasam Broth

An Ottolenghi-style riff on a classic South Indian dish, this tangy rasam broth, served with delicate rice balls, is intensely flavoursome and makes a thoroughly impressive vegan meal.

From the book

Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by &
Ottolenghi FLAVOUR
A guide to unlocking the complex flavour in simple vegetables
With a focus on creative cooking processes and clever ingredient pairing
Including recipes for everything from midweek meals to weekend feasts

Introduction

Our version of rasam, a South Indian broth, is sharp, complex and rich from the spices and the charring of tomatoes and lemons. We urge you to try it, despite the longish ingredient list, if only to discover a whole range of new flavours.

Use tamarind pulp here, not paste. The pulp, available in any Indian supermarket, is more complex in flavour and provides the sweet–acid kick that you’re after here (see more about tamarind on p. 20 of Ottolenghi FLAVOUR).

You’ll need to soak the rice for an hour in water. The balls can be formed a day ahead and kept refrigerated in a sealed container. Just bring them back up to room temperature before pouring over the hot broth.

Serves 4 as a main

Ingredients

For the tamarind rasam:
50g block of tamarind pulp
30g fresh ginger, skin on and thinly sliced
15g fresh turmeric, skin on and thinly sliced
1 large green chilli, roughly sliced (20g)
250g cherry tomatoes
2½ tbsp sunflower oil
½ lemon, halved again lengthways, then cut into ¼cm-thick half-moons (pips removed)
1½ tsp cumin seeds, finely crushed
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 whole dried red chillies
20 fresh curry leaves (if you can’t get any, you can also do without)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3–4 plum tomatoes (300g), coarsely grated and skins discarded (250g)
2 tsp caster sugar
salt
For the rice balls:
200g Thai sticky rice, soaked for 1 hour in plenty of cold water, then drained well
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for shaping
1 onion, finely chopped (150g)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
10g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra picked leaves and their stalks to garnish
2 spring onions, thinly sliced (30g)

Instructions

1. For the rasam, add the first four ingredients, 1.2 litres of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring to break apart the tamarind pulp. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, pushing down to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the aromatics.

2. Meanwhile, put the rice into a medium saucepan, for which you have a lid, along with 220ml of water and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil on a medium-high heat, then lower the heat to medium-low and cover loosely with the lid, leaving a small gap for some steam to escape. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and let sit, uncovered, until cool.

3. Toss the tomatoes in 1½ teaspoons of oil. Place a large sauté pan on a high heat. Once smoking, add the tomatoes and cook, tossing occasionally, until charred and blistered, about 4 minutes. Set aside. Add the lemons and cook until charred, 30–50 seconds per side, then set aside. Turn the heat down to medium-high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the cumin and mustard seeds, dried chillies, curry leaves (if using) and garlic and cook for 90 seconds, until fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more, then add the sugar, tamarind liquid, charred tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring back up to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the rice balls.

4. For the rice balls, put the oil into a sauté pan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 7 minutes, until softened and browned. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 90 seconds. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl with the cooked rice, coriander and spring onion. Mix well. With lightly oiled hands, form into twelve balls, weighing 30–35g each. 5. To serve, return the pan of rasam to a medium-high heat to heat through, then add the charred lemon slices and the sticky rice balls. Top with the picked coriander and serve.

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