Adapted from The Udupi Kitchen by Malati Srinivasan and Geetha Rao
To tourists and travelers, South Indian Udupi cuisine is most often associated with vegetarian dosa and snacky samplers served at hotels and adjacent food stands. The Udupi Kitchen, a compact book published in 2015, details the lesser-known tradition of well-structured home cooking that originated from the same region, and includes a half-dozen recipes for saaru, a kind of thin soup served with hot rice. The flavor of curry leaves, which are simmered in the broth instead of fried in ghee as part of the tempering mix, is front and center here. The recipe comes together in around 10 minutes, and with hot rotis, rice, or even coconut rice, it’s a perfect balm for cold and flu season.
- Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peppercorns and cumin into a fine power.
- Bring 4 cups of water, plus the tamarind and turmeric, to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add curry leaves. Add coconut sugar (or jaggery) and, gradually, the salt. Adjust seasonings; the broth should be a balance of sour, sweet, and salty flavors. Simmer for 5-10 minutes total and remove from heat.
- Heat ghee in a saucepan on medium heat and add mustard seeds until they begin to pop in the pan. Add pulverized black pepper and cumin, followed by the crushed chile, coriander, dal, and asafoetida. Stir to mix well.
- Return the soup to heat and pour tempering mix on top. Stir well and boil for 4-5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro leaves.
Hugh Merwin is a writer and researcher, and a former senior editor of New York magazine's Grub Street. He grows drought-resistant plants in Los Angeles.